LM Wind Power will expand its Grand Forks facilities to manufacture more blades in a $2.5 million project.

The city Job Development Authority (JDA) approved an expansion for the wind power company to add a third 62-meter (203 feet) blade mold and additional office space.

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The JDA is providing up to $2.5 million for the renovation of a city-owned building LM is leasing.

LM Wind Power currently employs about 800 people in Grand Forks, and with the new expansion the company would employ more than 1,000.

"There is a need for us to expand. Our demand is increasing and business is expanding," said Jagadish Rao, director of the Grand Forks plant.

These 62-meter blades are only produced in Grand Forks, Little Rock, Ark., and India.

To add a third mold, the company needs to modify the space it owns at 1580 S. 48th St. and the space it leases at 1550 S. 48th St. from the JDA, also known as the "Noah's Ark" building. LM Wind Power will rent the front portion of the "Noah's Ark" building for four years in a "stepped" lease. The first step will rent the front part of the building at LM Wind Power starting Jan. 1, 2019 for $4.90 per square foot. The next steps would add the remaining square footage of space for $4.90 per square foot. The cost of construction will be included in LM's rent.

The front portion of the Noah's Ark building has been sitting empty since Amazon left earlier this year.

LM Wind Power wants to use the space Amazon previously occupied as a training facility and office space. LM Wind Power currently leases the back half of the Noah's Ark building.

The JDA approved a similar project in 2017 for LM Wind Power. It started leasing the back half of the Noah's Ark building to begin manufacturing 62-meter blades.

Keith Lund, president and CEO of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. (EDC), said that the JDA's decision to allow LM Wind Power to expand into the space is consistent with the support they've shown the company since they've been in town. Lund also said that the EDC is "thrilled" to support the company.

"When space became available, the EDC and the city began marketing that space, but of course our first thought was (LM Wind Power) because they already occupied part of that space," Lund said. "So this is a win for the city, in getting the space filled and a win for the company because of the adjacency and convenience of the space."

LM Wind Power would use the south half of the building for a training facility and the north half of the building as office space. The north side would remain as-is and the south half would need to be remodeled.

The company will begin leasing this space Jan. 1, 2019, pending corporate approval from General Electric. GE is LM Wind Power's parent company and still needs to review both projects before construction begins.

"Grand Forks has always been very supportive and we're looking forward to continued cooperation," Rao said.