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Le Cruset to expand

First Byline: 
Michael M. DeWitt, Jr.

EARLY BRANCH - A well-established industry may be cooking up some new jobs for Hampton County workers.
Le Creuset, the maker of colorful cookware, has made Hampton County's first major economic announcement of 2011.
Last week the French-based company with a distribution center in the Lowcountry Industrial Park in Early Branch announced a $12 million investment over three years that would bring much-needed jobs to this area.
"Hampton County is working closely with Le Creuset to support and assist with their expansion plans," said Sandy Fowler, executive director of the Hampton County Economic Development Commission. "Le Creuset is a wonderful corporate citizen in our county, and we are delighted to work closely with them. We look forward to their continued success and growth in our community and pledge our full and enthusiastic support!"
Le Creuset plans to triple its Hampton County distribution center as well as move its U.S. corporate headquarters to Charleston. According to the Hampton County Economic Development website, Le Creuset employs 98 people at the local facility.
The announcement is expected to bring both construction jobs and manufacturing jobs.
And if that's not enough, the company is tinkering with the unique but long-term idea of adding a children's culinary education center near its factory outlet store in Yemassee, just off Interstate 95.
In 1977, Le Creuset established the 100,000 square-foot distribution center at 114 Bob Gifford Boulevard near Yemassee for its access to the interstate as well as the ports of Savannah and Charleston.
Founded in northern France in 1925, the company now markets its high end enamel cookware globally.