GREENVILLE, S.C. — Petaluma organic frozen food producer Amy's Kitchen will open a $63 million production facility in South Carolina and hire 700 workers over six years, officials said Wednesday.

Gov. Nikki Haley hailed the development as a major economic win for the state.

"Our administration continues to work daily on making sure South Carolina has the competitive business climate that attracts investments like this one. We thank Amy's Kitchen for deciding to invest in the Palmetto State and look forward to a long relationship with them," the governor said in a statement.

Andy Berliner, chief executive of the family-owned natural foods producer, said the move allows the firm to open its first East Coast plant.

"Greenville County provided us with an excellent site and an existing structure suiting our needs," Berliner said in a statement. "The state of South Carolina offered us a positive business environment as well as exceptional market access."

Amy's Kitchen will renovate a former Sara Lee plant and begin operation by Jan. 1 after purchasing new machinery and equipment. It will begin hiring for new positions this summer.

The company produces a wide range of natural and organic foods that are sold in natural food stores, supermarkets and select warehouse club stores.

Founded in 1988, Amy's Kitchen employs about 1,500 people at production plants in Santa Rosa and Oregon. It is preparing to begin production this year in Corby, England.

Earlier this year, it signed a 10-year lease that will allow it to consolidate warehouse and related operations into the former Ritz food warehouse in southwest Santa Rosa.

— Press Democrat staff and wire report