Work On Siemens Plant In Kansas Nearing Completion

Siemens Energy may begin some production work as soon as Oct. 1 at new $50 million Hutchinson plant that will produce nacelles for wind turbines.

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) -- Siemens Energy may begin some production work as soon as Oct. 1, provided the company receives a temporary certificate of occupancy from city inspectors for its new $50 million Hutchinson plant.

"We will begin on-the-job training and what some would call production activities as soon as possible," said Kevin Hazel, vice president of supply chain management for Siemens. "But as far as operations as a factory, we're still some time away. We're still targeting early December for the official release of our first production unit."

The plant will produce nacelles for wind turbines and eventually may employ 400 workers.

Hazel said the company's priority is to finish the manufacturing area first and then the office space. He said the company needs to position manufacturing equipment, make sure it is functioning properly and then train people to use it.

"We're working with the builder and the city to make sure all the steps are taken and done as soon as possible," Hazel said. "We're as anxious as the next guy to get things done. I was there yesterday, and it has been quite exciting to see the changes. A lot of what is going to be changing in the next two months is going to be going on inside, so there's not going to be much to see."

Landing the plant was a coup for city, county and state officials and the Hutchinson Reno County Chamber of Commerce, but they're not resting. In the coming week, they'll be courting Siemens suppliers, hoping to convince some to begin operations in Hutchinson.

Chamber President Dave Kerr left Tuesday for a wind energy trade show in Germany, where he'll meet with at least one Siemens supplier. City Council member Bob Bush, City Manager John Deardoff, a couple of officials from the Kansas Department of Commerce and Hazel will fly to Denmark on Friday for a series of meetings with suppliers at Siemens' wind turbine plant in Brande and other locations.

"The purpose of the trip is twofold," Deardoff said. "One is to further develop our relationship with Siemens. We think that's important from the standpoint of the plant here and other operations in the future with Siemens. And, second, we want to open the front door to Siemens' suppliers. Some have already been here to look."

Deardoff said the delegation does not expect to come back to Hutchinson next week with any deals in hand.

"It's just building relationships, but it's a big part of deal making as we learned with the Siemens plant. It doesn't happen overnight. You have to put a lot of work into it."

The group has meetings scheduled Monday through Wednesday next week and will head home Thursday.

Hazel said that Siemens also would like to see some of its suppliers' base operations near the Hutchinson plant.

Deardoff said the city of Hutchinson is paying his expenses on the trip, while the Chamber of Commerce is covering the costs for both Kerr and Bush.

"This is not a convention," Deardoff said. "We're not out making cold calls. We're talking to people who are suppliers of Siemens. We've got a facility that could employ 400 people, but the fact that they're building a plant here is not the end of the Siemens story."

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