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      Company adding jobs in Georgetown, Williamsburg counties

      Agru America announced Wednesday it will expand its operations in Georgetown County and in Williamsburg County.

      The combined investment of $39.1 million is expected to generate 126 new jobs.

      "We are pleased with the opportunity to move forward with these expansions. We have seen demand for our products increase and adding capacity at both facilities will help us meet our manufacturing goals. South Carolina has provided us with an excellent business environment for almost two decades, and both Georgetown and Williamsburg counties are perfect fits for our business. We appreciate all the support we've received from state and local officials," said Robert Johnson, president of Agru America, said in a press release.

      Agru America makes geosynthetics, products used in civil engineering.

      The company is expanding its Georgetown production facility by 40,000 square feet, with a 130,000-square-foot asphalt storage yard, to accommodate new production equipment. This includes at least three new machines and new employees to support the additional production capacity. This expansion will involve a $19.2 million investment and the creation of 49 jobs.

      In January, Agru America bought the assets of a production facility in Andrews, where the company has expanded its business to include production of needle-punched, non-woven textiles for environmental, industrial, automotive, bedding and furniture products. The company is upgrading and expanding this facility to accommodate additional production equipment and an increased labor force.

      The $19.9 million investment is expected to create 77 new jobs.

      "Seeing a South Carolina company decide to increase its footprint not just in one, but two counties is always exciting. We are working hard every day to help companies prosper by strengthening our state's business-friendly climate and develop the skills of our workforce. Today's announcement by Agru America is another sign we are on the right track," said Gov. Nikki Haley.

      Since January 2011, South Carolina has recruited more than $7 billion in capital investment and more than 18,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector.

      "Agru-America's decision to grow its business in both Williamsburg and Georgetown counties is exciting news for the NESA region. Agru-America has demonstrated its commitment to providing highly skilled jobs for individuals in the area surrounding Andrews, Georgetown and Kingstree. We are thrilled at the level of growth this company has seen as they produce their environmentally friendly product right in our backyard. This is a prime example of what can be accomplished by the team effort set forth by NESA, Williamsburg County and Georgetown County leaders," said state Senator Yancey McGill, chairman of NESA.

      As jobs become available, they will be posted and offered through the SCWorks offices in the counties where the expansions are taking place. The Georgetown SCWorks Center can be reached at (843) 546-8581, and the Kingstree SCWorks Center can be reached at (843) 354-7436.

      The Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved a set aside grant of $500,000 and approved job development credits, which will be available when hiring targets are met.