CORNING, N.Y., Dec. 19 -- Corning Inc. will build its next optical fiber manufacturing facility in Oklahoma City, Okla. Preliminary engineering plans for the new site will begin during the first half of 2001, with implementation pending full funding approval from the company's board of directors. Production at the new facility, which will be located on the western side of Oklahoma City in Canadian County, won't get underway until sometime in 2004, said Corning. When fully operational, the plant is expected to employ several hundred people. The addition of the new facility, coupled with the multiple fiber plant expansions that we announced earlier this year, will allow us to grow our fiber manufacturing capacity at a rate that is paced by the industry's strong market demand, said Alan Eusden, senior vice president and general manager of Optical Fiber at Corning. Our decision to locate the proposed new plant in Oklahoma City was based on the city's solid infrastructure, the availability of a skilled workforce and the overall quality of life that the area offers, Eusden said.