THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. - Mayor Brian Holmer said the Thief River Falls City Council recently approved the equivalent of an environmental study to put Digi-Key Electronics one step closer to breaking ground on its $300 million expansion project.

"It's a big step moving forward to the next level," he said. "It's going to have all their electronic components in there and the state-of-the-art picking and packing system to get their products out globally."

The mayor said the expansion on the city's west side will be the size of 23 football fields, but to be exact, Digi-Key Vice President of Administration Rick Trontvet said the building will have a footprint of 1 million square feet. It will include four stories, however, meaning it actually packs in 2.2 million square feet of usable space. The company describes the facility as an "order fulfillment, value-added manufacturing and warehouse center."

"We really appreciate the local partnerships with local, county and state agencies," Trontvet said. "The cooperation has been just tremendous.

"We're finalizing our designs, and we just hired a general contractor who will be starting to send out bid requests shortly. We have those things to do, but by April we should be ready to go."

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Trontvet said the city also has a number of infrastructure projects yet, but everything seems to be going smoothly.

"There's lots to do, but that's exciting," he said. "It's exciting to be part of a project of this magnitude that will have such a tremendous local and state economic impact."