Egger Wood Products projects occupying in December the first office spaces for its $700 million manufacturing operations in Lexington, the company said Friday.

The Austrian company announced plans in July 2017 for the 770-job project, of which 400 would be created in a $300 million first phase expected to take six years. The company said it has hired about 185 employees to date.

The North American corporate offices will feature 80 work places and improve access for architects, designers, wholesalers and home-furnishings customers to the company’s range of wood-based products and cutting-edge designs.

Particleboard manufacturing production is scheduled to begin by the end of 2020. The project is the first large development in the county-owned I-85 Corporate Center near Linwood.

The Egger update came as part of a Davidson County Economic Development Commission presentation related to the industrial park that included the Belmont Road roundabout project.

The company plans to ramp up hiring efforts in January, specifically for the following positions: installation assistants, maintenance technicians, forklift operators, electricians, part-time security guards, electrical engineers and control system engineers.

For more information about job openings, go to https://egger.bamboohr.com/jobs/ where 14 jobs were posted as of Friday.

“Growing our local employee workforce continues to be a key priority for Egger,” said Diana Reed, the company’s human resources manager.

“Our Davidson County-based team will be the primary driver of (our) North American business and a critical part of growth and operations.”

Egger began installing equipment in the plant during July.

Overall, the project is estimated to require three phases and 15 years to complete.

The company recently began its second round of an apprentice training program with Davidson County Community College.

The average Egger salary would be $40,000, according to the Davidson EDC. By comparison, the county’s average annual wage is $36,836.

Egger plans to build more than 4.5 million square feet of production space on more than 200 acres.

To put the Egger project into context, Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. has a 3.8 million-square-foot facility in Advance, its largest plant overall, where it has spent more than $250 million and created more than 1,120 jobs.

Egger, founded in 1961, will have 20 production plants worldwide with more than 9,400 employees when the Lexington plant opens. Customers include those in the furniture, wood distribution, building and do-it-yourself industries.

The ability for Egger to have a North American production facility “is vital to tap into the market and become a significant player for the growing demand in the U.S. for wood-based materials,” Walter Schiegl, the company’s chief technology officer and member of its executive board, said in July 2017.

Egger has been made eligible for up to $5.3 million in performance-based incentives from the state Job Development Investment Grant, up to $2.5 million from the One North Carolina Fund, and $2.5 million in matching local incentives.

It previously qualified for a $1 million grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation that will be used for sewer infrastructure.

The Davidson commission already has announced securing more than $11.75 million in grants and no- or low-interest loans for the creation of the business park. The financing is being used to pay for land, site preparation, infrastructure and roadway improvements.

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