Lenovo announced Tuesday it will add 115 jobs and begin a production line for personal computers at its distribution center in Whitsett, near Greensboro.

ThinkPad laptops and desk top machines will be built in North Carolina beginning next year, company representatives said during a news conference at Lenovo’s international executive headquarters in Morrisville. It will mark the first U.S. production for the world’s second-largest PC maker.

“Lenovo is establishing a U.S. manufacturing base because we believe in the long-term strength of the American PC market and our own growth opportunities here,” Yuanquing Yang, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

The production line will be inside Lenovo’s huge 240,000-square-foot distribution center. Earlier this year, the company expanded the center and said more employees would be hired.

Lenovo already employs more than 2,000 people across the state. Most of those work at the three-building Morrisville campus.

The majority of Lenovo’s operations are located across China, where the company was launched. However, since acquiring IBM’s PC business, which was based in the Triangle, in 2006, Lenovo has grown into an international firm with a growing share of the global computer market.

“As Lenovo expands globally, we are establishing even deeper roots in each major market,” Yang said. “In addition to localized sales and marketing teams, in our major countries we are establishing an even stronger manufacturing footprint, investing in R&D and ensuring that we hire top local talent. This global reach with local excellence helps us become even faster, more innovative and more responsive to our customers around the world.”

Gov. Bev Perdue said the company’s decision to invest in North Carolina defies a two-decade trend of technology jobs moving overseas.

“Lenovo’s decision to create electronic manufacturing jobs in North Carolina is a tremendous vote of confidence in the great skills and productivity of our state’s workforce,” she said in a statement. “We have a strong track record of commitments to education, training and economic policies that promote growth in our state’s manufacturing sector. This decision by Lenovo clearly demonstrates that North Carolina is an attractive place where leading global businesses can thrive.”

Lenovo only trails Hewlett-Packard in PC sales and has been cutting into HP’s lead to the point that Lenovo could surpass HP when PC shipments are announced for the third quarter ending Sept. 30. Those figures could come within the next few days.

[LENOVO ARCHIVE: Check out seven years of Lenovo stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire.]