ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis retail landscape is changing with the opening the region’s first IKEA store, one that also showcases the growing electrical complexities of retail construction. Two NECA contractors — Bell Electrical Contractors and Aschinger Electric Co. — teamed with IBEW to deliver the iconic Swedish home furnishing store in Midtown, which includes Missouri’s largest rooftop solar array.
Bell orchestrated electrical installations for the 380,000-square-foot store, which is IKEA’s first to be illuminated exclusively with LED lighting. The store also includes a 450-seat cafeteria style restaurant. Aschinger managed the installation of the 265,000-square-foot rooftop solar array containing 4,085 solar panels, enough to power 169 homes. IKEA is opening its St. Louis store on Sept. 30, 2015 and will employ about 300 workers.
“It is projects like IKEA that compel the IBEW/NECA Electrical Connection partnership to support STEM education initiatives in our region,” said Jim Curran, executive vice president, Electrical Connection. “Retail, like advanced manufacturing, is infused with technology requiring more complex electrical and communication infrastructure that demands a highly skilled workforce and proficient construction management. The electrical workforce of today must have a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering and math.”
The Electrical Connection partners with area schools and community organizations to help student understand the link between STEM subjects and successful careers in the electrical industry. Its STEM partnerships include the Saint Louis Science Center, FIRST Robotics, Saint Louis Rams, Partners for Progress of Greater St. Charles, Saint Louis University and school districts in the region.
Curran also noted that IKEA is among a growing list of companies that are investing more in renewable energy. IBEW/NECA has continually invested in renewable energy training at its Electrical Industry Training Center in St. Louis, which has produced more highly skilled electricians and communication technicians than any education program in the state.