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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real Estate Florida.)

LAKELAND, FL-GTech Corp. says it plans to open its new local facility to make instant-win Florida Lottery tickets next spring, starting with more than 100 employees and doubling its work force over the next three to five years. GlobeSt.com first reported in April that Providence, RI-based GTech would open the 98,000-sf plant at Interstate Commerce Park along Interstate 4 after signing a long-term lease with BecKryger Capital Partners.

Ross Dalton, senior vice president of GTech’s printed products and licensed content group, formally announced the company’s plans during a Lakeland Economic Development Council meeting Monday. Details of the state-contract operation, which is said to be worth at least $300 million, had been talked about locally in unofficial terms until this point.

“This new facility will allow us to offer our lottery customers far greater capabilities and will continue to demonstrate our dedication and commitment to superior customer satisfaction and service,” Dalton stated in a news release. GTech has a similar 50-employee operation in nearby Plant City that will continue to operate as a redundant facility.

GTech’s new Lakeland plant will have the capacity to produce 11 billion instant tickets annually, utilizing the latest security and printing equipment. The subsidiary of Italian-based Lottomatica is one of the largest gaming service manufacturers of its kind, with 5,900 employees in 50 countries.

GTech is considered a high-skill employer, says Steve Scruggs, LEDC executive director. He terms the company’s $45-million investment in its new facilities “a home run for Lakeland, Polk County and the state of Florida.”

Interstate Commerce Park is an industrial complex built around a former Kraft Foods citrus packaging plant. It operated from the 1960s until 2000, after which BecKryger bought the 209,000-sf plant and added 600,000 sf in various buildings. Its original 150,000-gallon water tower, which used to resemble a giant orange, is considered an I-4 landmark, visible for miles around.

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