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By Rick Smith, Local Tech Wire editor

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – , manufacturer of the Garmin satellite navigation device, will open a research-and-development facility in the Triangle, the company announced Tuesday.

Initial plans are to hire up to 40 engineers and to open the facility as soon as possible, said company spokesperson Ted Gartner.

“The wireless industry is moving very quickly and it behooves us to get a work force in place and running as soon as possible,” Gartner told Local Tech Wire and “We are highly motivated to get up and running as fast as possible.”

In order to expedite the hiring process, Gartner will host a job fair on Thursday.

However, Gartner said Garmin is still finalizing where the R&D facility will be located.

“At this point we haven’t announced anything,” Gartner said of an office location. “We are down to a final handful of facilities.”

The lab will focus on wireless and mobile products. Garmin offers a wide variety of navigation devices and last fall launched its own navigation-equipped smart phone called the Nuvifone.

Garmin is not receiving any tax incentives or grants from state or local governments, according to Gartner.

“We have not sought any nor have we received any,” Gartner said about incentives. “We came to the Raleigh-Durham area because of the quality and quantity of the engineers in the area.

“That comes from not only the higher education institutions as well as companies in the area but we also are aware of cutbacks and layoffs in that area,” he added.

Research In Motion, the Canada-based manufacturer of the BlackBerry mobile device, also is going to open a Triangle-area facility. The two announcements help offset somewhat the recent loss of Sony Ericsson’s North American headquarters and several hundred jobs.

Garmin wants to hire engineers who “are experienced wireless development, wireless software, and handset certification engineers.”

“We are excited to expand our resources through the opening of a wireless technology center in the Raleigh-Durham area,” said Cliff Pemble, Garmin’s chief operating officer, in the announcement. “In light of the growth opportunities for wireless products, we believe that this expansion is a critical step in expanding our ability to launch new wireless devices to markets around the world.”

Garmin noted the Triangle “area offers a large pool of highly-skilled engineering talent, thanks to the area’s many excellent universities and high-tech companies.”

It is planning a career forum on Jan. 14 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Hilton Raleigh-Durham Airport.