VIRGINIA BEACH, VA-Chain saw and power equipment manufacturer STIHL Inc. will invest $78.4 million to expand its Virginia Beach manufacturing and warehousing facilities. The two-phased expansion will be completed by 2007 and create approximately 150 new jobs.

"We are pleased to be able to continue to add jobs here in support of the local and national economies in lieu of outsourcing," says Fred Whyte, president of STIHL Inc. "Although we export to over 80 countries, the United States is still the largest single market for our products. Consequently, expanding manufacturing here in Virginia Beach has repeatedly proven to be a sound business decision for STIHL."

The first phase of the expansion will include the construction of a new 60,000-square-foot facility to house manufacturing operations for chain saw guide bars. In the second phase, STIHL, will spend more than $58 million to expand one warehouse by 88,000 square feet and convert other existing warehouse space into manufacturing for additional crankshaft and machining operations.

According to STIHL, the new manufacturing facility will employ automation, similar to that used in the automotive industry. The company chose to expand in the Virginia Beach area in part because of it supply of "highly skilled" workers. STIHL Inc. began manufacturing in Virginia Beach in 1974 with about 50 employees. Today, the company employs approximately 1,350 people in the area. In 2004 the facility produced approximately 2.4 million chain saws, trimmers and blowers.