North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue said frozen meats and sandwiches processorPierre Foods Inc ., Cincinnati, will expand its Claremont, N.C., plant.

Perdue said Pierre expects to create 500 jobs and invest $16.8 million during the next three years -- while it retains more than 700 existing jobs at the site. Although the company did not provide expansion details, state officials said Pierre received a $600,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund.

The company processes frozen sandwiches and other handheld products for schools, foodservice, retail, vending and convenience store channels. It has five plants in Ohio, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

"Pierre Foods is thrilled at this opportunity to support both growth in our business and economic activity in the state of North Carolina,” said Bill Toler, CEO of Pierre Foods. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with the state and thank all of our dedicated employees within the region for their contributions to our success.”