The company already operates 33 of its massive furniture storesin the US, including four others in the Midwest, including two inthe Chicago area, a store in Canton, MI and a store in Bloomington,MN. The store in this suburb of Cincinnati is now underconstruction, and should be complete by March, said store officialsin a statement. The company plans to hire 400 employees for the newstore.

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A company spokesman tells GlobeSt.com that the Sweden-based firmhas been trying to get into the Ohio market for some time. "We havebeen analyzing where to go, either Cleveland, Columbus orCincinnati," he says. "This is a very fast-growing area, and isaccessible to all parts of the market. From West Chester, it's atwo-hour radius from Indianapolis; Louisville, KY; Dayton, OH;Columbus and Lexington, KY. We don't open many stores a year, andwe hoped to complete a large area presence."

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He says the company would like to open more stores in theMidwest, but will now have to wait for its new distribution centerto open in Joliet, IL. "Once we hit five stores, we're at acritical mass to need a distribution center," the spokesman says.Ikea is buying 72 acres in the 352-acre Laraway Crossings BusinessPark, an industrial and distribution park at Route 53 and LarawayRoad in Joliet. Ikea has received approvals from the city for itsproperty plans, but has not fully completed the land purchase fromRyan Cos., the developer of the park, the spokesman says. Ikeawants to build a 650,000-sf facility that will open as early asspring 2009 and may expand the facility by an additional770,000-sf.

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"Once that distribution center is completed, we can continue ourgrowth in the region," the spokesman says. "We're very bullish onthe Midwest, people there definitely value function, style andaffordable prices." The company is also opening stores this year inBrooklyn, NY; Charlotte, NC; Somerville, MA; and Tampa, FL.

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