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Ashley breaks ground on N.C. plant expansion

ADVANCE, N.C. - After months of delays due to the discovery of wetlands on its 640-acre site here, Ashley Furniture broke ground April 17 on the next phase of what will be an $80 million, 3.8 million square- foot manufacturing and distribution center.
     In what the Arcadia, Wis.- based company calls "one of the largest investments ever made in the worldwide furniture industry," the company held a groundbreaking ceremony for a 1.04-millionsquare- foot expansion of the facility.
     North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and a host of other state and local government and business representatives attended the event. Also at the ceremony were several hundred Ashley reps, who had arrived at the High Point Market early for a one-day leadership training workshop at High Point University.
     McCrory recounted how he and other officials met with Ashley Chairman Ron Wanek shortly after discovering Wanek's displeasure with the delays, which included dealing with complexities involving North Carolina's new building codes.

Officials cast shovels
Officials cast shovels of dirt at the groundbreaking. From left are Bill Koslo, Ashley attorney; Sharon Decker, North Carolina commerce secretary; Ron Wanek, Ashley chairman; Pat McCrory, North Carolina governor; Todd Wanek, Ashley president and CEO; Terry Bralley, president of the Davie County Economic Development Commission; and John Skvarla, secretary, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, right, presents Ashley Furniture’s Ron Wanek with a plate bearing the North Carolina state seal during the groundbreaking ceremony.
North Carolina

     McCrory said that instead of delaying things further, officials worked to help resolve these issues within a matter of weeks, navigating through the maze of regulations.
     "We are here because of a team effort," the governor said. "We love having this new Wisconsin blood here in North Carolina."
     The Advance site, about 40 minutes west of High Point, currently has about 1.7 million square feet of developed buildings, now used mainly for warehousing and storage of product and manufacturing equipment. Roughly 80,000 square feet is devoted to temporary upholstery manufacturing.
     Expected to be completed sometime early next year, the expansion will add more than 1 million square feet of warehousing and distribution. It will also devote about 400,000 square feet to upholstery and case goods manufacturing in the existing 418,000 square foot facility now being used to warehouse project.
     A second phase will later add another 1.02 million square feet to the project, which is eventually expected to employ more than 500 workers.

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