Praxai will invest more than $10 million over the next 12 months to expand the production capacity of its Niagara Falls industrial gas manufacturing facility.

Maureen Fama, manager of marketing communications said the project is expected to preserve jobs at the 4501 Royal St. facility, which has about 90 employees. The expansion, which will include alterations to the facility, will increase bulk atmospheric liquid manufacturing capacity by 350 tons per day, she said.

Plans call for a new air separation plant and a quality assurance building to test product purity. Other elements include additional truck bays and upgrades to existing bays, more filling pumps and new truck scales. Praxair also has other Western New York operations in North Tonawanda and Tonawanda. It has occupied the Niagara Falls site since 1981.

Stepped-up production at the Niagara Falls plant is expected to start in first quarter 2008.

The plant also distributes industrial gas products throughout the region. $quot;Our across-the-board business growth - no single driving force - was the justification behind this project,$quot; Fama said.

Continued demand for the company's products in Western New York coupled with a long-term relationship with Empire State Development were factors in deciding to expand the Niagara Falls plant's operation, said Ted Trumpp, vice president-East Region for Praxair's North American Industrial Gases unit.