Salem Mayor Anna Peterson on Monday praised Garmin AT Inc.’s decision to build a $14 million expansion that will bring more high-paying technology jobs to the city.
“Those engineering jobs are well above family wage job criteria,” Peterson said at the Salem City Council meeting. “They’re the kind of jobs that bring stability to the community.”
Garmin designs and manufactures navigation and communications equipment for general aviation customers at its site near the Salem airport. In May, Garmin’s plans to build a new 66,000-square-foot building became public when the city approved enterprise zone property tax breaks for the project.
The expansion will create at least 65 new software and engineering positions in Salem. The average annual wage for those positions: $56,059
Garmin’s growth came up at Monday’s council meeting because the company requested that the city amend a lease on 3.3 acres it intends to use for parking. City councilors voted in favor of amending the lease, allowing the company to make monthly rental payments rather than an annual payment.
Construction of Garmin’s new building has started. It’s expected to be completed by the end of 2014.
Earlier on Monday, Oregon’s economic development agency formally presented Garmin with a forgivable loan of $487,500 from the state’s Business Expansion Program.
John Wales, Salem’s urban development director, said Garmin approached local and state officials about the expansion several years ago. Salem competed with other areas for Garmin’s project, he said.
“We are very pleased they have decided to choose Salem. This is the third time they have expanded here,” Wales told the city council.
In 2003, Garmin established a presence in Salem when it bought UPS Aviation Technologies, a maker of aircraft navigation systems. With the purchase, the company created Garmin AT Inc., its wholly owned subsidiary in Salem.
Garmin also operates a call center in Salem, which provides customer support for its automotive, marine, outdoor recreation and fitness products.