Bobcat is building a new “Acceleration Center” at the Northern Plains Commerce Centre in Bismarck.
The $20-million project is designed to help Bobcat develop new products for the construction market. Bobcat president Rich Goldsbury says the plant's purpose will be to develop the next generation of Bobcat equipment.
"We created the market for compact construction equipment right here in North Dakota," said Goldsbury. "We did that 50 years ago. Today, we are re-staking the foundation we have in North Dakota and in Bismarck, insuring the next innovation, the next idea, literally ground-breaking products are envisioned, designed and tested right here in North Dakota."
The center will initially house 135 employees – mostly engineers who will help design the new products. Bobcat already has 225 salaried workers and 400 hourly employees in its Bismarck locations.
During the height of the recession, in the late 2000s, Bobcat closed its Bismarck manufacturing facility, laying off more than 400 workers.
"From bad things can come good things," said Bismarck Mayor John Warford. He says the layoffs initially hit Bismarck hard. But those laid off workers found other jobs. And Warford says what was the Bobcat manufacturing facility has become something else.
"It looks like a well-run Asian company," said Warford. (Bobcat is owned by South Korea-based Doosan.) "It's light, people are walking around with hand held laptops, and they're assembling kits that are shipped to Gwinner, where they're used to assemble Bobcats and Tool Cats, and mini-excavators."
"Certainly the community of Bismarck did acknowledge the struggles we went through in the receession," said Goldsbury. "Our business went down over 60 percent. It still hasn't recovered entirely. But we never left Bismarck. So we're happy to continue our investment, and invest deeper."
"This is a testimony for a major company to look at the workforce in Bismarck, the living conditions, the other amenities we have, the transportation," said Warford. "I couldn't be more pleased."
The new center will open by the summer of 2014.