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A local division of MeadWestvaco Corp. is investing $9.3 million in a new innovation center that will create about 25 high-skilled jobs in North Charleston.

MWV Specialty Chemicals said Thursday the expansion will focus on refining and improving products that come out of it its nearby research and development center on Virginia Avenue.

The finished goods can then be made on site at the adjoining manufacturing plant.

The new 27,000-square-foot innovation center is expected to begin operations in early 2015. It’s being built across the street from the 15-year-old R&D site and next to the entrance to former MeadWestvaco paper mill on the Cooper River.

“The new facility will enrich our technical innovation capabilities, positioning our division to serve important global growth businesses in rapidly changing and competitive markets,” said Ed Rose, president of North Charleston-based MWV Specialty Chemicals. “The center will support our existing North Charleston operations as we continue to expand our product offerings around the world.”

The center will work with locally developed wood-based chemicals used in the emissions, oil, asphalt and adhesives markets.

The division employs around 450 workers in the Charleston region and more than 1,200 worldwide.

The innovation center will be staffed mostly by engineers and scientists, Rose said.

“MWV Specialty Chemicals is a world-class company, and it speaks volumes that they decided to put this high-tech expansion here in South Carolina,” Gov. Nikki Haley said in a written statement.

The expanding chemical division is top performer within MeadWestvaco, a Richmond, Va.-based packaging giant with long ties to the Charleston region.

The division’s second-quarter sales increased about 6 percent to $260 million from a year ago. Earnings for the chemical business were flat but fat for the April-June period at around $61 million, representing a solid 23 percent profit margin.

MeadWestvaco said it will release its third-quarter financial performance Oct. 29.

The company’s large land development business also is based in the Charleston region.

Contact John McDermott at 937-5572.