Nature's Earth Products Inc., the nation's largest supplier of natural cat litter and a manufacturer of hardwood-blend fuel pellets, will invest $12 million to open a new factory in Laurinburg, North Carolina, according to the North Carolina governor's office. The project is expected to create 98 new jobs at an average annual salary of $28,704 plus benefits. The Florida-headquartered company, which markets such brands as Feline Pine cat litter and Freedom Fuel stove pellets, will retrofit an existing vacant facility to produce fuel pellets from sawmill byproducts. "We are very excited to be locating our new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in North Carolina," says Ken Simard, a Nature's Earth spokesperson. "The assistance and cooperation by Governor Perdue's office made our decision to locate in Laurinburg very easy. We're confident our partnership with the state and Scotland County will enable us to meet or exceed our growth targets over the next three years." The company will receive a $196,000 grant from the state contingent on job creation; the funds must be matched by local agencies.