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Lipton brews $96M deal to stay in Suffolk, Va.

SUFFOLK, Va. (AP) -- The parent company of the Lipton Tea is planning to invest more than $96 million to expand its Suffolk facility.

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced the investment from Unilever on Monday afternoon.

The largest tea processing facility in the U.S. employs nearly 300 in Hampton Roads.

The plant has been in operation since 1955 and produces nearly all of the Lipton tea bags sold throughout North America.

Because the company imports loose tea from various countries, the Suffolk plant's proximity to the Port of Virginia influenced the location decision for this investment, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng said in a news release.

McDonnell approved a $1 million performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership program for the project. Officials say Virginia successfully competed against Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina for the project.