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AGCO breaks ground for new facility, ready to aid local economy with 110 new jobs

Eric Fisher (fourth from left), director of AGCO Jackson Operations, is joined for a ceremonial groundbreak-ing at the AGCO expansion site. Pictured with Fisher are Chuck Ackman, representing Sen. Amy Klobuchar; Dave Henkels, Jackson County Commissioner; Dennis Hunwardsen, Jackson Economic Development Corp. and Jackson Alderman; Pat Christopherson, Jackson City Administrator; Jeff Johnson, Jackson County Cen-tral School Board; and David Hanson, Federated Rural Electric Association board member. (JULIE BU...2 / 2

JACKSON -- With wind-whipped rain smacking against their faces, AGCO officials and dignitaries stuck their golden-colored shovels into a gravel base late Tuesday morning to celebrate the groundbreaking of a major expansion project at the AGCO facility in Jackson.

The weather certainly didn't dampen the spirit of the event, which marked the start of construction on a 75,000-square-foot addi-tion to AGCO's assembly building. The expansion will consist of an additional line to manufacture the 8600 and and select models of the 7400 and 6400 series of Massey Ferguson wheel tractors, and increase production of the Challenger MT600 series, and select models of the MT500 series of track tractors. Also planned are a visitor center, kitting center for delivering parts and material to the assembly line, and a driving track that will allow visitors to test drive any of the equipment manufactured at the Jackson facility.

After a brief announcement and ceremonial dig at the expansion site, Tuesday's event moved indoors for a project update and presentation of the building plans.

Eric Fisher, director of AGCO Jackson Operations, announced that everything is moving along as scheduled, with concrete al-ready removed from the construction site. The steel beams framing the addition are anticipated to be up by mid-May, with the warehouse targeted for completion by early July.

The hiring process has already begun, with plans to have 60 new employees in place by the time the warehouse addition is com-plete this summer. Another 50 employees will be added by the second quarter of 2012.

AGCO Human Resources Manager Mark Dykema said job applications are available and can be completed online at Already, Dykema said they have received more than 100 applications.

"But we need a lot of people," he added. Interviews have already started for some positions, but the heavier waves of hiring will begin in June at a "steady, conservative" pace. Among the positions to be filled are assemblers, material handlers, welders and painters.

By early October, the hope is that the new assembly line will be completed and the existing line will transition into the new area.

"Within two months after that, we will start production of the new tractors," Fisher said.

The expansion of the AGCO Jackson Operations will help position the company to better serve its North American customers. An existing facility in France will continue to serve clients in other nations around the globe.

Fisher said once the expansion is complete in Jackson, the facility will more than double its production efforts. Approximately 1,000 Challenger tractors are manufactured per year on site at this time, with about one-third of them exported through the world market.

With the addition of the Massey Ferguson line, Fisher said they will produce another 1,000 to 1,500 tractors annually at Jackson beginning in mid- to late December. The Massey line of wheel tractors will be produced for domestic customers only.

The expansion of AGCO Jackson Operations would not have been possible without the support of local leaders, said Fisher, giv-ing credit to representatives of the city of Jackson, Jackson Economic Development Corp., Jackson County, Federated Rural Elec-tric and others.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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