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Organic Food, 700 Jobs Coming To South Carolina

Wed, 05/11/2011 - 9:04am

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — The California-based organic frozen food producer Amy's Kitchen is coming to South Carolina with $63 million for a new plant and 700 jobs over six years, officials announced Wednesday.

Gov. Nikki Haley hailed the development as a major economic win for the region and the state as a whole.

It is the third major jobs announcement the governor has shepherded since online retail giant Amazon.com withdrew its plans for 1,250 full-time jobs and $100 million in investment in Lexington County last month.

State lawmakers rejected efforts to give that company a break from collecting sales taxes.

In a statement, Haley said the Amy's Kitchen move "will have an impact for years to come."

"Our administration continues to work daily on making sure South Carolina has the competitive business climate that attracts investments like this one. We thank Amy's Kitchen for deciding to invest in the Palmetto State and look forward to a long relationship with them," the governor added.

Andy Berliner, the CEO of the family-owned natural foods producer based in Sonoma County, said the move allows the firm to open its first East Coast plant.

"Greenville County provided us with an excellent site and an existing structure suiting our needs," Berliner said in a statement. "The state of South Carolina offered us a positive business environment as well as exceptional market access."

The firm will renovate a former Sara Lee plant and begin operation by Jan. 1 after purchasing new machinery and equipment. It will begin hiring for new positions this summer.

The company has facilities in California, Oregon and Corby, England, a company statement said.

In its 23rd year, the company produces a wide range of natural and organic foods that are sold in natural food stores, supermarkets and select warehouse club stores, the company statement said.

Since the Amazon.com reversal, South Carolina has landed two other major company announcements.

Michelin North America broke ground last week on a $200 million expansion of its Lexington plant that will add 270 jobs during the next two years to make passenger tires.

Last week, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced 4,000 new jobs and an investment of $400 million in the state over the next five years. Wal-Mart was a vocal opponent of the Amazon tax break. So-called brick-and-mortar stores have seen sales plunge as more and more consumers shop online.

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