Last updated: September 08. 2013 2:53AM - 86 Views

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Representatives from DeLong’s Inc., a bridge, structural and ornamental steel manufacturer, were joined by community members on Thursday as the company announced plans to expand its Sedalia facility and nearly double its local workforce.

Economic Development Sedalia-Pettis County (EDSPC) has set aside $76,837 in tax credits for the project through the Enhanced Enterprise Zone in exchange for $1.5 million in investment and the creation of 20 jobs.

Originally launched in 1944 in Jefferson City, DeLong’s now employs about 180 people and produces about 100 bridges per year. Bob Bachta, executive vice president and general manager, told a large gathering of community and business leaders at the EDSPC offices that the company expects continued growth in the coming years.

“We feel this is a great community to do business in ... and we look forward to an operation that can grow from here,” Bachta said.

Bachta said the company already does steel part fabrication in Sedalia, but the planned 12,320-square-foot expansion will allow it to expand storage, as well as adding a painting operation at the new facility at the intersection of Harding Avenue and Harvey Street. The property is located just across the street from the company’s existing plant. Work will also continue at the existing location.

Bachta said the company is working on an “aggressive” construction schedule and expects to have the first portion of the expansion operational by the end of the year and the full project completed by next spring.

EDSPC President John Swearingen celebrated the expansion and said the group worked with DeLong’s to look for a suitable expansion site for about four years before finally settling on the final location.

He also noted that Thursday’s announcement was the seventh this year, including six announcements since March and two this month, following recognition in early September of a planned expansion at Starline Brass.

“Almost exclusively, those announcements have been existing companies who have decided that Sedalia, Mo., is the place they should grow their business, and today’s announcement is another example of that,” Swearingen said.

Bachta told reporters after the announcement that he expects about 90 percent of new hires will be from the Sedalia/Pettis County area and expects hiring to begin before the end of the year.

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