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Officials for Alliant Techsystems Inc. said Tuesday work is nearly finished on its $100 million aircraft component manufacturing plant in Clearfield and that it expects to begin hiring staff in a couple of weeks to prepare for the initial production launch in August.

Production at the center, which will serve as the headquarters for ATK Aerospace Structures, is expected to create about 800 high-paying jobs over the next 20 years, generating almost $1 billion in wages along the way.

"At first, we will be hiring about 100 people to check out the facility and run initial production tests," said George Torres, a spokesman for ATK's Utah operations. "But we will be ramping up the number of employees over the next year or so as we bring more manufacturing online."

Hiring for the facility, which will manufacture composite-fiber airframe components for the Airbus A350 commercial jet and engine parts for General Electric and Rolls Royce, represents a small bright spot in what can only be described as a bleak employment picture at the aerospace company.

ATK's aerospace systems group in Utah, perhaps best known for producing the solid-fuel rocket motors used on the space shuttle, has gone through a series of layoffs in the past two years as the shuttle program has wound down. The aerospace group, which has reduced its workforce by nearly 2,200 since early 2009, has about 3,500 employees. They represent the vast majority of ATK's workforce in Utah.

Torres said former ATK employees are welcome to apply for jobs at the Clearfield plant but will not receive preferential consideration. "We have had layoffs in the launch side of our business, but these new jobs demand a certain skill set where experience in composite fiber technology is essential."

Although ATK is based in Minnesota, two of the company's three operating groups call Utah home. ATK Aerospace Systems, headquartered in Magna with operations in Promontory, produces solid-fuelrocket propulsion systems and is also a supplier of military and commercial aircraft structures. ATK Armament Systems, which is based in Clearfield and employs several dozen Utahns, is one of the world's largest manufacturers of military ammunition. Almost all its operations, though, are out of state.

Clearfield Mayor Don Wood said ATK's new plant will be a welcome addition to the community.

"It is really symbolic of our manufacturing heritage," he said. "We don't have a lot of retail, but what we have are large numbers of warehousing, distribution and manufacturing facilities that employ large numbers of high-tech workers."

The new ATK center will have 615,000-square-feet of manufacturing space, which is the equivalent of six soccer fields, Torres said. "It has been designed to meet the demands of the commercial aircraft marketplace and will have the capability of manufacturing more than 10,000 parts per month."

It sits next door to an existing ATK operation that uses computer-driven robotic machines to weave composite fibers into wing skins and other critical parts for military aircraft.

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