ZEELAND, Mich. (WOOD) — One West Michigan-based company is taking a bold approach to attracting and keeping employees.

Gentex broke ground Friday on an on-site child care and preschool facility.

The move will make life just a bit easier for the working parent. 

“We were looking for something on our campus so it would be convenient for our employees, but we wanted it to have a sense of isolation away from the industrial side of the business so it would look and mimic what the Outdoor Discovery Center is all about,” said Steve Downing, president and CEO of Gentex.

Gentex has partnered with Holland-based Outdoor Discovery Center Network for this project.

ODC Network is committed to education and conservation, a combination that’s going to make the child care center and preschool a bit unique.

“Our programs all run in what we call a nature-based model; so our kids spend almost all their time outside. We use the outdoors as a classroom,” said Travis Williams, CEO of ODC Network.

The Gentex Discovery Preschool is expected to be finished in the next 12 to 18 months.  

“Quite frankly there was a million reasons why pulling off a facility like this was very difficult and we had to have the right partnership. Outdoor Discovery Center actually brought the partnership that we needed to pull off a location and a program of this level,” said Downing.

“When the corporate engagement comes in and invests the money in creating the facility and in this case, even looking to subsidize the cost for the employees and making it affordable but still creating the most high-quality opportunity for child care for their employees, that’s just a unique thing,” said Williams.

The facility will support parents who work first and second shift, with the ability to serve 500 children age birth to 5 years old over both shifts.