Bushman Press has signed a non-binding letter of intent to sell its operations here to Banta Corp., one of the nation's largest printing companies.

"The acquisition will create great opportunities for the employees of this company and give a boost to the local economy," said Steve Bushman, president of the 9-year-old Utah County company.He said Banta will expand Bushman Press with an initial $20 million investment. It also plans to expand Bushman operations into West Coast markets.

"I'm excited about the ability for us to increase our market and provide greater services for our customers," said Bushman. "Banta is an excellent company to work with. They will provide us with the stability and resources to give our customers almost all the printing services available."

Calvin W. Aurand Jr., chairman of Banta Corp., said expansion plans include construction of a 15-acre facility in the Utah Valley area and acquisition of new, high-speed web presses to increase printing capacity.

"High-speed web printing is a natural market expansion for Bushman's operations," said Aurand. "Banta's extensive experience in web printing, along with our financial capabilities, give us the potential to develop Bushman into a technologically advanced web operation."

Banta Corp. has 10 printing plants in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Virginia and employs 3,700. Sales of $578 million were reported for the year.

Along with manuals and software packages, Banta produces softcover books, special-interest magazines, catalogs, direct marketing materials, point-of-purchase materials and single-use products.

Banta also provides conventional and electronic pre-press services.

Bushman began in 1982 with three employees. In 1987, it made Printing Impressions magazine's list of the top 500 printers in America. In 1988, Inc. magazine rated Bushman 36th in the top 500 fastest growing companies in America. In 1989, Bushman moved up to seventh in the Inc. listing.

Today, Bushman Press has 250 employees and, says Steve Bushman, is determined to continue the growth.

"The proposed acquisition would create an opportunity for both Bushman and Banta to combine efforts and create a stronger presence in the fast-growing market."