Source: The Virginian-Pilot

Stihl Inc. plans to spend $10.3 million to build an expansion at its U.S. headquarters and hire 52 new workers, city officials are set to announce today.

The expansion would allow the German company to double its manufacturing capacity for "blow-molded" plastic products, such as tubes used for blowers and fuel tanks.

"Our Virginia Beach workforce has proven its ability to meet the demands of our customers, both here and overseas," said Peter Mueller, the company's executive vice president, in a news release. "Because of the manufacturing-friendly environment in Virginia Beach, we are able to compete domestically and globally, ultimately allowing us to continue to expand our operations here."

Mueller and Stihl's national president, Fred Whyte, were in Germany on Monday, attending meetings at Stihl's worldwide headquarters, spokesman Terry Kelley said.

Stihl last month began construction of the more than 53,000-square-foot addition to its accessories building off International Parkway, said Lorraine Wagner, director of manufacturing. The existing building produces accessories such as cutting heads for trimmers.

The addition is expected to be completed by the middle ofnext year, Wagner said.

Stihl will spend approximately $4.9 million to build the facility on land now used for parking, $4.6 million on machinery and $800,000 for other equipment, city officials said.

The company, which already employs nearly 1,900 workers at the site, will begin hiring new workers in the first half of next year, Wagner said. The new workers will earn an average salary of $45,000 a year, city officials said.

The Virginia Beach plant produces more tools than any other Stihl plant in the world.

The privately held company does not publicize how many tools it produces. But Whyte has said sales of U.S.-made equipment, which is marketed worldwide, top $1 billion annually.

The company has applied for a $100,000 city economic development grant connected to its capital spending and new jobs. The Virginia Beach Development Authority is expected to vote today on the application.