ST. LOUIS (AP) — A $400 million expansion planned for the Monsanto Co.'s research center in suburban St. Louis could bring 675 new jobs to the region during the next three years, the company said Tuesday.

The agricultural products company said it will add 36 new greenhouses, offices, laboratory space and "plant growth chambers," which can be programmed to represent any climate around the world. Monsanto plans to build more at its Chesterfield Research Center. Construction is expected to start in August and be completed by 2017, the company said.

Monsanto officials joined Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon Tuesday in making the announcement at the International Bio Convention in Chicago.

The company could receive more than $31 million of state incentives for the expansion if it creates the estimated 675 jobs, the Department of Economic Development said.

"This planned expansion will ensure that our researchers have the facilities they need to discover and develop the next generation of agricultural products," Jerry Steiner, Monsanto's executive vice president for sustainability and corporate affairs said in a news release. "Through this research we can provide valuable tools for farmers who want multiple options that deliver yield sustainability."

Monsanto already has about 1,000 employees, two acres of greenhouses, about 250 laboratories and 122 plant growth chambers at the Chesterfield site. It has a total of about 4,500 employees in Creve Coeur and Chesterfield.

The potential state incentives include $21.6 million through the Missouri Quality Jobs program, which rewards businesses that add jobs with above average wages and health benefits, and $9.5 million through the Missouri Business Use Incentives for Large-Scale Development program, which helps finance infrastructure and equipment costs for big business expansions.

"In Missouri, we take great pride in our state's status as a leader in the biotechnology industry, and Monsanto's $400 million expansion in St. Louis will accelerate our state's continued growth in this area," Nixon said in a news release. "One of the fastest-growing sectors of Missouri's economy is in science and technology, and I remain committed to embracing these industries to transform our economy and create next-generation jobs."


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