Charlotte-based retailer Belk Inc. will expand its e-commerce distribution center in Union County, adding 170 new jobs with a $32 million investment by the end of 2015, the company announced Wednesday.

The family-owned department store chain with 301 stores across 16 Southeastern states already has spent $9 million to upfit additional space at the 500,000-square-foot facility in Jonesville this year. The new jobs will come in addition to the 124 positions announced last year at the site.

"Our e-commerce business continues to grow very quickly and we need to invest in our fulfillment capabilities to keep pace with that growth," said John R. Belk, company president and chief operating officer.

"Our Jonesville center has proven to be a great investment for us, and we are pleased to be able to bring additional resources into that community," Belk said. "We appreciate our partnership with Union County and the support the state and county have provided to help us grow our Jonesville facility."

Last year Belk Inc. established operations within the former Disney facility. The 125-year-old company completed phase one of the building upfit this year, and phase two is scheduled for completion in August 2014.

The facility, along with the company's Pineville, N.C., e-commerce center, fulfills the retailer's digital business, which is experiencing rapid growth, according to Belk. Online sales were up nearly 45 percent during the third quarter of the year (August to October) and up nearly 53 percent for the fiscal year to date (February to October), the company said.

Gov. Nikki Haley hailed the retailer's decision as a "big win" for Union County.

"It's a great day when a company with such a long tradition in South Carolina and across the Southeast chooses to expand here," Haley said. "Belk's decision ... underscores that we are a major player in the distribution field. We appreciate Belk's commitment to South Carolina."

Since January 2011, South Carolina has recruited more than $500 million in capital investment and more than 4,000 jobs in the warehouse and distribution sector, according to state officials.

The state's transportation, distribution and logistics sector support about 45,000 jobs in South Carolina, according to Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt.

"I commented last year at their initial opening that Belk and Union are a comfortable fit," said Tommy Sinclair, Union County supervisor and chairman of County Council. "(The expansion) is evidence of Belk's continued and growing faith in our mutual future."

Belk operates four stores in the Charleston region. They are in West Ashley, North Charleston, Summerville and Mount Pleasant, where the shop is being expanded at Towne Centre to serve as a flagship store. Construction on the $10.2 million expansion, which includes a new parking deck, will be completed next fall.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or