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NORTH BRANCH, MN-Andersen Corp. plans to build a new 150,000-sf plant in the city with the help of a new state economic development incentive program. The plant, which will employ about 135 workers, will be built at the Industrial Estates one mile north of Downtown in this city about 45 miles north of the Twin Cities.

The new plant will likely benefit from a new state JOBZ program, which was created earlier this year by the Minnesota Legislature. Businesses that locate in the zones need not pay for 12 years state taxes on equipment purchases, property improvements or related corporate income.

“The close proximity to our manufacturing plants in Bayport and Cottage Grove, a construction-ready site, the availability of a good workforce, and a competitive cost were all important factors in our decision to relocate this facility to North Branch,” says Jim Humphrey, president and CEO of Andersen.

The Bayport-based company is a private company with $2 billion in annual sales generating in part by a housing and remodeling boom helped by low mortgage rates. The company has outgrown its current extrusion facility in White Bear Lake, where about 40 employees work, Humphrey says. The workforce in White Bear will be transferred to the new local facility, and the existing White Bear Lake facility will close. Plans are to break ground by the end of the month and move into the new facility in the spring of 2004.

“The North Branch facility will employ people from throughout the region, allowing families to live in rural areas and still have a quality job,” Pawlenty says. “Economic development means being prepared to go the extra mile to show businesses like Andersen that Minnesota is the place to be.”

The planned tax-free zones are yet to be finalized. The state Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is reviewing the 10 applications it has from communities around the state that want a zone.

The deal was revealed earlier this week at a news conference attended by Gov. Pawlenty, Humphrey and North Branch Mayor Gloria Karsky.

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