Airgas, Inc. is moving ahead with plans to construct a state-of-the-art facility in Roseville, Minnesota to meet the fast-growing demand for cylinder gases and related products in the region.

The new facility will employ 35 staff and offer full distribution and retail services.

The company celebrated with staff, local officials, and contractors at a formal groundbreaking ceremony this morning on the new grounds. Airgas is the largest U.S. distributor of industrial, medical, and specialty gases, and related hardgoods, such as welding equipment and safety products. The facility will be owned and operated by Airgas North Central, one of 12 regional companies that make up Airgas' distribution business.

$quot;Our new Roseville facility will allow Airgas to provide a highly efficient, local platform for sales and distribution in the Twin Cities metropolitan area,$quot; said Don Speight, Vice President - Northern Division, Airgas North Central. $quot;The facility demonstrates our confidence and commitment to the future growth of the metro area economy and adds a new dimension to our capabilities and existing operations in nearby Savage, MN, Ramsey, MN and Hudson, WI.$quot;

When complete, the 18,000 square foot facility on 6 acres will employ approximately 35 staff and incorporate a medical filling plant combined with full branch operations and distribution services. The facility will also include a retail store stocked with welding equipment and safety products, in addition to the company's offering of industrial, medical, and specialty gases.

The plant will fill cylinders with medical grade oxygen, nitrogen, CO2, and nitrous oxide, and the operations will serve a diverse customer base including universities, research and development, electronics, medical gases and equipment, metal fabrication, construction and the HVAC industries.