PORT MANATEE -- A company that built a new high-tech manufacturing plant across the street from Port Manatee plans an elaborate dedication ceremony at 10 a.m. Jan. 9.
Air Products Port Manatee, will celebrate its official opening that day, according to an invitation sent to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, state Secretary of Commerce F. Gray Swoope Jr., and all Manatee County commissioners, among others.
The event is at the new plant, 2525 Inland Transport St., Palmetto, near the port north of Palmetto.
The new facility is designed to custom-build huge liquefied natural gas heat exchangers, machines used to liquefy natural gas. The LNG exchangers will be hauled across U.S. 41 to Port Manatee and shipped all over the world.
Already, such equipment is used in 15 countries, according to the dedication invitation.
The event will be closed to the public, said company spokesman Art George.
Many of those invited to the ceremony are people who helped the Allenton, Pa.-based company locate its new plant here, he said.
"We do expect manufacturing to begin in February," George said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
So far, the company has hired 53 workers, and expects to hire another 40 over the next year, George said.
Building exteriors are finished, but workers are still completing the interior. Onsite training is taking place there as well, George said.
The company ultimately plans to hire about 250 workers during a four-year ramp-up, company officials have said.
Construction was expected to create another 120 jobs, officials have said.
Air Products will receive $1.75 million in performance-based incentives from the state and another $680,000 from Manatee County if all jobs promised are realized, the Herald reported last year.
Manatee Technical Institute is training workers in specialized welding techniques, said Karen Stewart, Manatee County economic development program manager.
"The dedication is really a milestone for our county," she said. "Economically, it represents the grand opening of a great company with significant capital investment, creating more than 250 jobs. It is really going to put our locale, especially Port Manatee, on the map for possible future projects."
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.