JW Aluminum expansion

JW Aluminum's $255 million expansion of its Goose Creek campus was one of the state's top economic development announcements in 2018. Provided/JW Aluminum

Berkeley County had three of South Carolina's top economic development announcements in 2018, according to the state's Commerce Department, which tallied nearly $4.2 billion in projects last year.

A $600 million expansion of search engine giant Google Inc.'s data center in Moncks Corner was the year's biggest announcement in terms of value, according to the state agency charged with recruiting industry.

The facility, one of only a handful of data centers the technology giant runs in the U.S. , is part of the backbone that keeps services like Gmail and Google Drive online.

J.W. Aluminum's announcement of a $255 million expansion of its Goose Creek campus ranked fourth in value. The expansion, scheduled for completion in 2020, includes a new 220,000-square-foot building and state-of-the-art equipment to make flat-rolled aluminum for the construction and other industries.

"Additional planned investments will bring the total investment in Goose Creek to over $300 million and make our South Carolina facility one of the most technologically advanced continuous cast plants in the world," said Stan Brant, the company's chief operating officer.

W International, a welding and fabrication firm doing work for defense projects like a next-generation Navy submarine, finished No. 3 on the Commerce Department's list for the year's top job creation announcements. The company plans to hire 600 people at its Charleston International Manufacturing Center site near Goose Creek.

All told, the state's new projects totaled 14,071 jobs. The top job creator was RoundPoint Mortgage Servicing Corp. which is bringing 1,100 jobs to a new corporate headquarters in York County.

This year's recruitment list includes industries from the metal, automotive, plastics, chemicals and agribusiness industries as well as corporate office jobs.

"South Carolina continues to cultivate a diverse economy in all corners of our state," said Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt. "This year's industry recruitment results reflect that diversity and show that South Carolina has become a leading business destination for companies of all types."

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Since 2011, the year Hitt became Commerce Secretary, the agency has recruited $35,6 billion in capital investment by new or expanding businesses.

More than 60 percent of the jobs created last year were by new businesses while the rest were from expansions of existing businesses.

United States firms represented three-fourths of the investments by dollar value, followed by German companies at 5 percent and Chinese businesses at 4 percent.

Berkeley County was the only county to land at least three projects on the annual list. Spartanburg County had two announcements, including a Keurig coffee roasting and packaging facility that was the state's second-biggest investment and fourth-largest job creator.

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_