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Daimler announces $500M expansion in North Charleston

New plans unveiled (AVa Wilhite/WCIV)

LADSON, S.C. (AP/WCIV) - Daimler AG announced a major expansion at the North Charleston plant where it assembles its Sprinter vans.

The announcement made Friday morning unveiled plans for a $500 million expansion of the operation expected to mean at least 1,300 new jobs. Currently, the plant assembles vans in Ladson under the Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner brands from parts made overseas and shipped to this country in kits.On approximately 200 acres off of Palmetto Commerce Parkway, Mercedes-Benz Vans will create a completely new body shop, a paint shop and an assembly line.

The company website says the plant opened in 1999 as a Western Star truck plant. Daimler acquired the building in 2006 and began producing Dodge and Freightliner Sprinters.

The last Dodge was assembled in 2009 and the following year the company launched its Mercedes-Benz Sprinters in the U.S.

The plant now employs about 100 workers. Construction on the new, full van manufacturing plant will begin next year.

Governor Haley told plant workers in attendance that they were partly responsible for the economic boost. "Today's announcement builds on a decade of success for Daimler and Mercedes-Benz in the South Carolina Lowcountry, and we couldn't be happier to be the home of their first full manufacturing facility for vans in North America," she said. "Mercedes-Benz is not only a world-class brand - they are also a great corporate citizen and partner for our state and for the Charleston community. Its decision to bring South Carolina-made vans to the North American market is huge, and the 1,300 new jobs this plant will create is a big boost to the region."North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey admitted the development was the "catalyst" for the industrial growth in Palmetto Commerce Park."North Charleston stands ready to support Daimler's renewed investment within our community, and we enthusiastically offer congratulations to the entire company and its workers," he said. "In North Charleston, we are fortunate to boast a strong economy and an environment that is ripe for businesses to flourish. Yet, today's announcement from Daimler is truly transformative to our business landscape, validating North Charleston as an automotive manufacturing hub. On behalf of city council and all citizens of North Charleston, we thank Daimler for its confidence in our highly skilled workforce and our community."You can follow ABC News 4 reporter Ava Wilhite on Twitter for live updates at @AvaWil_ABCnews4.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. ABC News 4 contributed to this report.

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