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Spartan Motors expanding North Charleston plant, adding 308 jobs

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amazon announcement mecedes benz vans.jpg (copy)

Amazon and Mercedes-Benz Vans executives (above) announced a big order when the German carmaker unveiled its $500 million campus in North Charleston. Now, Michigan-based Spartan Motors, which helps to customize Sprinter vans, is planning a plant expansion in North Charleston. File/Staff

A business that customizes Sprinter vans for Mercedes-Benz Vans is expanding its operations with the goal of building truck bodies at its North Charleston site.

Spartan Motors plans to invest $1.15 million at its Fain Street production site and hire 308 employees for work that includes production of custom shelving, lighting and ergonomic design services for commercial vehicles.

"We are big believers in the skilled tradespeople of North Charleston and the larger region, and we know the talent available here will allow us to manufacture to the standard of excellence our customers have come to expect," Spartan CEO Daryl Adams said in a statement.

Adams, in a conference call with analysts in August, said the North Charleston site was still ramping up to customize Sprinters and EuroVans built by Volkswagen.

"We're not built out yet," Adams said, adding "the plant is large enough to start building truck bodies there."

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Michigan-based Spartan Motors, which modifies Sprinter vans built at the Mercedes-Benz Vans plant in North Charleston, on Tuesday announced an expansion that will add 308 jobs to its Fain Street plant. File/Staff

"Once we get the ramp-up completed ... we'll be focused on that," he said.

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Michigan-based Spartan Motors is upfitting South Carolina-made Sprinters for's delivery service. The Mercedes-Benz Vans plant in North Charleston is building 20,000 vehicles for the online retail giant.

Spartan also is negotiating with Amazon to build walk-in vans and truck bodies as part of an effort to boost its share of the high-growth "last-mile" delivery market.

Charleston County Council previously approved tax breaks for the expansion and the state's Coordinating Council for Economic Development is giving a $100,000 grant for building improvements.

County documents show the new jobs will pay an average of $36,650 a year and Spartan will produce $552,500 in property tax revenues over the next 20 years.

Spartan, which is traded on the Nasdaq exchange, posted $816 million in sales last year. It has more than 2,200 employees at plants in the United States, Mexico and Peru.

John Hagerty, chairman of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, said Spartan "will be a tremendous asset to our growing automotive cluster," which includes Mercedes-Benz Vans in North Charleston, Volvo Cars in Berkeley County and BMW in the Upstate.

All told, South Carolina's automotive industry employs more than 72,000 people and accounts for $27 billion in annual economic impact.

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

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