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LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) -- Ground has been broken for a $10 million plant in northern Idaho that will be the third-largest manufacturer in Lewiston.

Local officials took part in the ceremony Thursday for the 105,800-square-foot building belonging to Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories that will make high-tech equipment for electrical generation, transmission and distribution.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that once finished it will rank only behind manufactures Clearwater Paper and ATK, which makes ammunition.

The company expects to occupy the building in September and have as many as 250 employees in three years.

Lewiston Mayor Kevin Poole said the plant will support 10 or 15 other businesses in the region. Poole, other elected officials, economic development boosters and about 200 company employees attended the ceremony.

The company's founder and president, Ed Schweitzer, said that a complex study was done to determine how to disturb the least amount of dirt in building the plant without sacrificing the efficiency of the building.

He said the first people to work in the building will be involved in precision-injection plastic manufacturing, and will include about 20 operators, technicians, engineers and support staff.

He said the building is capable of having 500 employees working two shifts. He said the company will grow as sales of products increase and the company adds additional workers to make circuit boards, meters, communication equipment, digital protective relays and cables.

Adina Bielenberg, a company spokeswoman, said new employees have the opportunity to rise with the company. She noted that last year the company promoted 100 workers from the manufacturing floor at other plants.

If business goes extremely well, company officials said, a second building of the same size could be built near the first on a 25-acre site.

SOURCE

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