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WHITING DOOR TO EXPAND EITHER HERE OR IN MISSOURI

Whiting Roll-Up Door Manufacturing Corp. is prepared to begin a $1 million expansion project at its Akron headquarters, provided they get some help from Erie County and New York State.

If the economic stimulus package doesn't arrive, as many as 150 local jobs could move west to Missouri.

The 40-plus-year-old manufacturer of roll-up and swinging doors is bursting at the seams and has to expand to meet customer needs.

Plans call for the firm to add 20,000 square feet of space to its fabrication and painting building, and 7,000 square feet to its shipping and receiving facility.

Whiting currently occupies about 400,000 square feet of space.

The expansion would allow the firm to add as many as 50 new employees to its 500-plus-employee roster.

Co-owners Patrick and Michael Whiting would love to grow in Western New York -- it's been their home all of their lives -- but the bottom line has to be considered.

"We haven't committed to expand here until the state makes it worthwhile," said Patrick Whiting. "We would love to expand here, but our customers are screaming that we expand in Missouri."

Whiting has a smaller operation in the St. Louis area, much nearer the firm's customer base. Whiting's chief competitors, located in Ohio and Texas, already are located closer to its customers. Freight charges to ship to the Midwest are an immediate disadvantage for Whiting.

Patrick Whiting admits he's had discussions with various Missouri economic development agencies, but he's looking for the Erie County Industrial Development Agency and the state, through Empire State Development, to provide the necessary economic stimulus to keep the Akron operation humming.

"If we moved to a site in Missouri, you're talking about moving about 150 jobs out there," Whiting said.

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