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Graco Inc. has started construction on a project that will nearly double the size of its manufacturing operations in Anoka for its lubrication business.

The facility is expected to add more than 50 jobs by the end of 2028. Graco currently has more than 1,500 employees in the Twin Cities.

"This expansion will immediately elevate our ability to meet our customers' growing demand, and it prepares us for the next decade of growth," said Peter O'Shea, president of Graco's worldwide lubrication equipment division, in a statement. "We've simply outgrown our current space."

The company estimates it will spend $46.5 million and noted "the project is being master-planned to allow for a potential future facility expansion to the north," according to documents submitted to the Anoka Planning Commission.

The project will be adjacent to Graco's current building in Anoka. The new building will have factory space as well as office, meeting and utility room space and a new loading dock.

The 176,000-square-foot building will open in summer 2024.

The project is the latest expansion in the Twin Cities for Minneapolis-based Graco.

Graco spent $95 million last year to build a solar-powered 500,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Dayton. The company currently is building a second 500,000-square-foot building on the Dayton campus that will become its worldwide distribution center.

Graco more than doubled its manufacturing and training space in Rogers with a 480,000-square-foot addition completed in 2019.

Graco's profits last year were $460.6 million, up 8%. Sales were up 8% to $2.1 billion.

The company currently has nearly 2.5 million square feet of space in the Twin Cities in eight facilities, according to the company's latest federal financial filing. The company owns all of that space with the exception of a 268,000-square-foot distribution center and office in Rogers, which it leases.

Factory space is in short supply.

Twin Cities manufacturing space had a vacancy rate of 1.9% in the first quarter, the lowest for any type of industrial property according to a market study by Toronto-based Colliers, a commercial real estate services firm.