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Published in Economic Development
Perrigo CEO sees Grand Rapids Medical Mile as potential ‘Silicon Valley of self-care’ COURTESY RENDERING

Perrigo CEO sees Grand Rapids Medical Mile as potential ‘Silicon Valley of self-care’

BY KATE CARLSON and ANDY BALASKOVITZ Tuesday, October 27, 2020 04:44pm

GRAND RAPIDS — Executives at Perrigo Co. plc believe the company’s new North American headquarters will fit in neatly with the city of Grand Rapids’ burgeoning health care sector along Medical Mile. 

“In my mind, (Medical Mile) could become the Silicon Valley of self-care,” Perrigo CEO Murray Kessler told MiBiz in an interview. “It’s a huge opportunity with like-minded people that all see the value in health care and wellness.”

The company announced the nearly $44.8 million project Tuesday after receiving a $2 million grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund. Perrigo (NYSE: PRGO) expects the project will create 170 jobs.

Landing the international publicly traded company’s headquarters in downtown Grand Rapids was nearly a year in the making and achieves a major goal for economic developers.

“It’s about as significant as it gets in my business,” The Right Place Inc. CEO Birgit Klohs told MiBiz. “It is an unbelievable success. Having a global company downtown is huge. It can’t be overestimated how important it is.”

Klohs said Grand Rapids was competing with Chicago and southwestern Florida to land the Perrigo investment, and the project is the latest chapter in the 20-year effort to build up the Medical Mile. The area is anchored by Michigan State University, the Van Andel Institute, Grand Valley State University and Spectrum Health, which is planning additional developments in the Monroe North business district. 

Perrigo “wanted to be in the middle of all of that,” Klohs said. “They wanted to be connected to all of those resources and organizations and universities for research, collaboration and talent attraction. It was a very, very thoughtful process in how they went about it.”

Perrigo’s 63,550-square-foot facility will be at 430 Monroe Ave. NW in MSU’s Grand Rapids Innovation Park and will be built by Rockford Construction. In addition to the state grant, the city of Grand Rapids will consider a $1.5 million property tax abatement for the company.

Company transformation

The headquarters announcement comes less than two years after Kessler started leading Perrigo’s transformation into a self-care company. Kessler said the Medical Mile is a modernized environment that will help it recruit diverse talent and help continue its shift to self-care products.

“Over the past two years, we have changed almost everything at Perrigo across the system,” Kessler said. “This is another key component of that (to) reshape ourselves and create that new energy.”

As part of its focus toward wellness and self-care products, Perrigo acquired Grand Rapids-based oral care products maker Ranir Global Holdings LLC in 2019 for $750 million. Perrigo also changed 40 percent of its leadership team as of January 2020.

Kessler said Grand Rapids offers talent-attraction benefits compared to its current North American headquarters in Allegan. Perrigo is domiciled in Dublin, Ireland, but run from its existing offices in Allegan, where the company was founded more than 130 years ago. 

Meanwhile, the company’s new headquarters would remain relatively close to its facility in Holland Township, where it invested $13.6 million in a 66,000-square-foot expansion earlier this year.

Kessler said operations at Perrigo’s Holland Township industrial facility will not be negatively affected by the new headquarters. 

“People that are coming and helping to reconfigure the company would all stay in Grand Rapids,” Kessler said. “Grand Rapids has already been effective in drawing people.”

Kessler lived in Grand Rapids briefly and says he was surprised by its amenities and nightlife.

“Grand Rapids doesn’t jump off the page at me when I’m thinking of metro areas, but it has everything,” Kessler said. “We were going to see Broadway shows, the symphony, opera, and going to great restaurants. That creates energy and a greater opportunity.”

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