INDIANAPOLIS -- This November, the National FFA Organization will break ground on the future home of its new 36,000-square-foot merchandise center here.

The multiple-use facility, located at 5155 Technology Way Park in Park 100's Innerpark, will house the FFA Merchandise Operations Division. This $10 million operation includes the merchandising, licensing and customer and distribution services departments.

Within the new facility, 18,000 square feet have been designated for distribution operations, 9,000 for office space and the balance reserved for operations and student visitors.

"The reason we're building the merchandise center is to be able to meet current customer demand and build capacity for future growth," said Lee Anne Shiller, director of merchandise operations. Price tag is estimated to be $5 million.

Duke Construction has been contracted to build the facility. RATIO Architects Inc., who designed the Indianapolis-based National FFA Center nine years ago, will design the $3.5 million merchandise center. The new building's entry was inspired by some of the same structural elements as the current FFA Center. The new facility will also offer tours, and to enhance member visits, the building will be specifically designed to allow tour groups to watch while plaques are being engraved.

Nearly 40 existing FFA staff are expected to move into the center by June, with the capacity to house 70. The move allows for a $1.4 million expansion at the National FFA Center that will be completed prior to the 2007 National FFA Convention.

FFA is a national youth organization of 490,017 student members preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture with 7,210 local chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. FFA strives to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

SOURCE: FFA news release.