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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)


Fitness equipment maker Life Fitness has begun hiring 100 new workers after an $11 million expansion of its factory in Owatonna.

The construction project added 150,000 square feet to the existing 340,000-square-foot plant that makes 200 commercial fitness products, including strength machines and its well known Cybex Arc Trainer.

The expansion in Minnesota is the second in two years for Life Fitness, a subsidiary of Illinois-based Brunswick Corp. It expanded its Ramsey factory last year. It also has facilities in Bristol and Delavan, Wis., as well as in Illinois, Kentucky and Hungary.

The Owatonna Cybex project received help from the city and state. The city of Owatonna committed $1.4 million in tax increment financing assistance, while Minnesota's economic development arm provided a $350,000 job-creation rebate-grant and $500,000 in separate capital investment funds.

"The city and state have been critical partners in supporting the expansion of the facility," said John Champa, Life Fitness' senior director of manufacturing operations at the Cybex facility, which currently employs about 150 workers.

The company produces more products at its two Minnesota locations than in any of its other facilities, said Scott Darsow, Life Fitness vice president of global manufacturing.

"With this [Owatonna] expansion, we're underscoring our commitment to growing our global manufacturing footprint and to growth in the local community," he said.

Shawntera Hardy, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, said the expansion will double production in Owatonna.

"This investment in local job opportunities is a major commitment to the community, she said.

New hires will include specialists in welding, fabrication, powder-coat painting and assembly. The jobs will pay an average of $18.37 an hour.

Dee DePass · 612-673-7725

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February 28, 2017


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