COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - Agru America, a maker of geosynthetics, announced Wednesday it will expand its current 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.
Agru America, Inc. 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 purchased 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.
"I've always said that economic development is a team effort, and today's announcement is a striking example of what can happen when state, regional and local pool their resources. Agru America's decision to build on its Palmetto State investments not only creates jobs with impact, but also adds steam to our state's manufacturing renaissance," said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt.
Started in 1948 by Alois Gruber Sr. in Bad Hall, Austria, the first venture was an anodizing shop in Gruinburg, Austria which is still in production today. Agru's presence in the United States started with the opening of a pipe plant in Massachusetts in 1988, expanding in 1992 to geomembrane production at the Massachusetts facility. The manufacturing and headquarters were relocated in 1996 to their current home in Georgetown.
"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.
Williamsburg County Supervisor Stanley Pasley said, "The expansion of Agru America is exciting news for Williamsburg County. Their additional investment and creation of new jobs will benefit our county and its citizens. We wish continued growth for the company and thank them for being part of our industrial community."
"Georgetown County is excited to see Agru America expanding its Georgetown facility as well as growing its footprint locally via the purchase and upgrade of the building in Andrews. For years, Agru America has been one of our finest local companies and has demonstrated just how successful a high-tech, eco-friendly company can be in our area. We look forward to working with them to provide a skilled workforce so they can accomplish their business objectives in the years to come," said Georgetown County Council Chairman Johnny Morant.
As new jobs become available for the expansion projects, jobs will be posted and offered through the SCWorks offices in the respective 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.