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Wind tower company to employ 250 in South Dakota

BRANDON, S.D. (AP) -- A Canada-based wind tower manufacturer that is setting up shop in the southeastern South Dakota city of Brandon says it hopes to start production this summer.

Marmen Inc. is moving into a facility built by a U.S.-based wind tower company that never used it, and also expanding the plant. The company hopes to employ 250 people when construction is complete next year, President Patrick Pellerin said during a public ceremony on Tuesday.

It is the first U.S. location for the Quebec company that wants to be closer to the central U.S., where wind energy is prospering.

"It's extremely expensive to transport and move," Pellerin said of the company's products. "So, if you want to be a big player in that area, you have to be very close."

The building in Brandon's industrial park was built in 2010 for Tower Tech Systems, a division of Broadwind Energy, but the Wisconsin-based company was not able to secure enough contracts to start production.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard said Marmen was "attracted to the prospect of a building that was ready to go." Pellerin cited what he called South Dakota's pro-business climate as another key factor.

Pellerin said the company plans to cut its first piece of steel in Brandon in July and ship out its first finished product in October. The company already is interviewing for welders, mechanics, electricians and other workers.