Industrial plant construction rises 33% in '07

SUGAR LAND, TEXAS Alternative fuel production is among the industries leading this year's acceleration in industrial plant construction in the United States, according to Industrial Info Resources. About 76 ethanol and biodiesel plants are underway, including Cascade Grain Products' $100 million ethanol plant in Clatskanie, Ore. Fagen Inc. in Granite Falls, Minn., is the engineering-and-construction

SUGAR LAND, TEXAS — Alternative fuel production is among the industries leading this year's acceleration in industrial plant construction in the United States, according to Industrial Info Resources. About 76 ethanol and biodiesel plants are underway, including Cascade Grain Products' $100 million ethanol plant in Clatskanie, Ore. Fagen Inc. in Granite Falls, Minn., is the engineering-and-construction firm handling the project, which is about a year into construction.

Overall, the total investment value of grassroot industrial plants under construction in the United States has increased by about 33%, from $60 billion to $88 billion, since IIR conducted a similar study in October 2006. Correspondingly, the number of plants under construction has increased from 601 to 656 during the same period.

When completed, these plants will add more than 111,000 new hourly and salaried manufacturing jobs, IIR said. The Mid-Atlantic region, which includes West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and the District of Columbia, will add the most new manufacturing jobs with 28,995 in 70 new industrial plants. The Great Lakes region has almost twice as many new plants under construction as the Mid-Atlantic with 138, but these plants will result in fewer employees with 23,902.

Grassroot plants are defined as plants being constructed from the ground up, with no previous site improvements. Plants under construction include projects that have achieved financing, board approval, and have broken ground or begun civil/site preparation activities. Once construction is underway, various milestones are achieved along the way including civil/site prep, structural erection, building construction, mechanical/equipment installation, electrical/ instrumentation, insulation/coatings and start-up testing. Once a plant is commissioned and operational, it is no longer considered under construction.

Besides alternative fuels, a wide variety of industries have new plants under construction. Industrial manufacturing and the power industry lead the way, but other industries are posting strong numbers, such as metals and minerals and chemical processing.

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