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LECENTER, MN-Two startup businesses, Shetka Works and Electronic Assembly Specialists, will take advantage of Minnesota’s Job Opportunity Building Zone initiative, Gov. Tim Pawlenty says. Together, they’ll account for more than $4 million in capital investment and the anticipated creation of as many as 60 new jobs.

Shetka Works of LeCenter, LLC, uses an innovative manufacturing process for converting waste pulp, paper and fiber products into high quality tabletops, counters and work surfaces. Shetka has purchased a vacant 24,000-sf building in LeCenter, and anticipates a total capital investment of about $3.4 million in the new company. Shetka expects the LeCenter facility will employ between 20 and 40 people in its first year of full production.

“Essentially we take paper and turn it back into wood,” says Stan Shetka, who invented the manufacturing process used by his new company. He says his process is cleaner, uses no chemicals, and results in a product that’s “easier to work with than wood.”

Electronic Assembly Specialists, Inc., is a contract manufacturer of electronic circuit boards that specializes in low-cost printed circuit board assembly and testing. It’s a new company, founded by Jan Berghoff, who has successfully created and expanded similar electronics companies in the Twin Cities.

Berghoff conducted an extensive search for a building that met his criteria. Berghoff expects his company will employ up to 25 people in its first year. The company will occupy a new city-owned building that occupies the site of a previous building that was destroyed in a 1997 tornado. Berghoff anticipates a total project cost of about $750,000.

The JOBZ initiative is aimed at stimulating economic development activity in distressed areas of Minnesota. The initiative offers a variety of local and state tax incentives to companies that start up, expand or relocate in one of 10 designated regions of Greater Minnesota. To date, 25 companies have executed business subsidy agreements in JOBZ zones, with plans to create 308 new jobs and invest more than $46 million in total capital investment.

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