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The Boston Globe

Business

Schneider Electric to open R & D center in Andover

Perkins + Will Rendering

Schneider Electric, a multinational energy management company, is investing tens of millions of dollars to build a global research and development center in Andover by the end of this year.

About 730 people, relocated from existing Schneider facilities in Massachusetts, will work in the 235,000-square-foot R&D center when it opens in December. Schneider executives said they expect to steadily increase employment there in coming years.

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“We tend to grow these groups by about 15 percent a year,” said Barry Coflan, a senior vice president at Schneider. “They tend to be professional jobs, high-tech kind of jobs [that bring] a lot of stability and economic prosperity into the region.”

Schneider, based in Paris, generated about $30.8 billion in revenue last year and has some 140,000 employees in more than 100 countries.

Its selection of Andover as one of five research and development centers is another example of how the state’s culture of innovation, its standing as a technology center, and its highly educated workforce are attracting foreign investment.

“The vibrant ecosystem of innovation in the Greater Boston area is the ideal backdrop,” Chris Curtis, ­Schneider’s chief executive in North America, said in a statement.

Schneider’s Massachusetts workforce of about 850 already focuses on R&D, software development, and sales and marketing — at facilities in North Andover, Andover, Billerica, Canton, and Weymouth..

The company will give up its leased offices in Andover, North Andover, and Billerica. Many staffers will move to the new Andover center, where the research and development team will focus on creating and improving software and devices to help customers manage energy and become more efficient, seeking ways, for example, to keep the equipment at large computing centers from overheating.

Schneider’s products are already doing that type of work at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, an energy-efficient data center in Holyoke.

Company officials said they selected Andover in part because of its proximity to major highways and top universities.

Schneider recruits many workers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Massachusetts Lowell, and Northeastern University.

The project, which company officials say is costing tens of millions of dollars, will renovate a vacant 160,000-square-foot building on Federal Street and construct a 75,000- square- foot addition.

The center will include a laboratory for testing technologies, plus training and conference spaces.

Company officials said they see the center as a hub of high- tech jobs. “It’s reaffirming our commitment to the region,” said Coflan.

The facility is being financed in part by government incentives, including a five-year tax increment financing agreement with Andover valued at $1.2 million, a state investment tax credit for $285,000, and a one-year, 10 percent corporate income tax deduction for the cost of renovating the building.

The state’s housing and economic development secretary, Gregory Bialecki, hailed Schneider’s expansion in Andover as proof the Patrick administration’s investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure are paying off and attracting employers.

“We’ve been trying to make the case that the innovation economy is alive and well all around Massachusetts, not just in Boston and Cambridge,” Bialecki said, “and this is the perfect example of that.”

Erin Ailworth can be reached at eailworth@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ailworth.

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