Perrigo’s move: The latest Medical Mile milestone

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Over-the-counter drug maker Perrigo announced this week that it’s moving its headquarters from Allegan to Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile.

Perrigo will invest nearly $45 million over the next 15 years in Michigan State University’s Innovation Park. The new public-private partnership is designed to bring together health care, research, education and the private sector on the Medical Mile, and is the latest example of the way health care is helping diversify Grand Rapids’ economy.

And it all began 20 years ago with the opening of Van Andel Institute.

“Van Andel Institute came along and really built that first acorn in the ground and from there it blossomed,” said Birgit Klohs, president & CEO of The Right Place, the economic development group that’s helped bring much of the investment to the Medical Mile.

The idea behind the Medical Mile was to create a sort of life science ecosystem.

Along with VAI, MSU’s College of Human Medicine and Grand Valley’s Medical Mile Campus joined with Spectrum Health Butterworth to create a center for healthcare to rival places like Rochester, Minnesota, home to the Mayo Clinic, became a reality.

“Research, health care, education, more research and now a private sector company that can take advantage of all of that in that same ecosystem,” Klohs said. “Another 25 years from now, I think you’ll see even further development up and down Monroe (Avenue) and up and down Michigan (Street).”

That additional development is expected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new investment over that time.

Klohs and her Right Place staff help put together the package, including $3.7 million in state incentives to bring Perrigo to the Medical Mile. 170 jobs will be created.

A rendering provided by Rockford Construction shows Perrigo’s North American headquarters, which will be housed in Michigan State University’s Innovation Park, located at the corner of Monroe Avenue NW and Michigan Street in downtown Grand Rapids.

Perrigo’s manufacturing facility in Allegan will remain there as well as plants in Holland and Grand Rapids.

“Our future North American corporate headquarters in Grand Rapids will be designed to help us create adaptable workspaces that support cross-functional collaboration, work safely in a post COVID-19 new-normal world and will enhance our ability to attract diverse, highly skilled professionals,” said Perrigo President and CEO Murray S. Kessler in a statement release Tuesday after the Michigan Economic Development Corporation approved the incentives.

“What is especially exciting is the location is within the world-renowned Medical Mile, which will allow Perrigo to leverage the expertise of healthcare and innovation through leaders who share our passion for making self-care accessible, affordable and effective for all.”

“They all have choices,” said Klohs of Perrigo and other companies who’ve made the move to Grand Rapids. “They have choices of where they can locate. And to be able to play a part on a team to make sure that they locate in downtown Grand Rapids was just a really fabulous opportunity.”

But perhaps more important is the spin-offs the move is expected to bring.

The strategy is attract more global companies, like Perrigo, along with startups like Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing, which is poised to help produce the eventual coronavirus vaccine.

“To me, Perrigo is like the perfect fit for that ecosystem,” said Klohs, who says she remembers being asked 20 years ago what the Medical Mile would look like today.

“My dream was that it will look something like this,” Klohs said.

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