Plan to continue diversification of county’s economy

Charles Warner Editor

October 11, 2013

UNION COUNTY — The continued diversification of the local economy will be a result of the Union County Development Board’s plan to make the county more attractive to industry.

From the late 19th century through the late 20th century, textiles were the dominant industry in Union County. While textiles still have a presence in the county, the local economy has become more diverse in recent years. That diversity is reflected in the following companies listed on the development board website (uniondevelopmentboard.com) and the products and services they produce:

• Allied Industrial International — Flooring

• Anduran — Custom roto-molding

• Resolute Forest Products — Pulpwood

• Carlisle Finishing Plant — Finishing cotton and synthetic fabric

• CPE — Consumer Products Enterprises — Felts, pressed/needle looms

• Belk E-commerce — Distribution and fulfillment center

• Dollar General Distribution Center — Distribution center

• ESAB Welding and Cutting — Manufacturing facility (welding wire)

• Gonvauto — Steel processing

• Milliken-Cedar Hill & Gillespie Plant — Woven fabrics

• Haemonetics — Medical devices in flexible packaging

• Santuc Precision — Machining and stamping

• International Paper Co. — Wood chips mill/paper

• Gestamp South Caronlina, LLC — Stamping, automotive supplier

• Lockhart Power — Power company

• Materials Unlimited — Surplus, over-runs non-woven

• Parts & Machinery — Fabricated piping

• Piedmont Concrete Products — Concrete

• Premier Colors — Color chemicals

• Southeast Emulsion — Liquid asphalt storage

• Sonoco Products — Plastic products

• Spectra Colorants — Printing and dyeing garments

• Standard Textile-Carolina — Fabric finishing

• Timken — Anti-friction roller bearings

• Timken Industrial Bearings Services — Anti-friction roller bearings

• Union County Printworks — Specialty screen and flatbed printing

• United Wood Treating — Treated poles, treated piling

• Webb Forging — Ferrous and non-ferrous forgings

• Union Industrial Design — Industrial services

This diversification would continue as result of at least two of the three phases of the development board’s plan to make Union County more attractive to prospective industry.

Phase I

A major part of the board’s plan is the construction of a spec building which would be financed with a $2 million loan Union County is applying for from Santee Cooper. Executive Director Andrena Powell-Baker, however, pointed out that while it important to the recruitment of new industry, the spec building is only one part of the board’s economic development plans.

“The building is just part of a plan to give us an edge over what our competition is doing,” Powell-Baker said Wednesday. “It includes the spec building which we will be building at Commerce Park. We’ll be marketing it to heavy industry, to automotive suppliers, to heavy water and sewer users.”

Located between U.S. 176 and S.C. 18, Commerce Park is already home to several industries including Gestamp, which is an automotive parts supplier to BMW, and Gonvauto which processes steel for Gestamp. The arrival of Gestamp and Gonvauto represented Union County’s inclusion in the automotive industry which has been an increasingly large presence in the Upstate since the arrival of BMW. The location of the Gestamp and Gonvauto plants in Union County are significant mileposts in the diversification of Union County’s economy, a process that the spec building could help continue.

The 60,000-square-foot spec building and accompanying 60,000-square-foot building pad which will be built there is not only designed to accommodate a manufacturing facility but any future expansion it undergoes. Since it began operations, Gestamp has underwent several expansions and the possible of future expansions of Gestamp and/or Gonvauto has lead to the Bonham Fire Department preparing to relocate in the event that occurs.

Phase II

Powell-Baker said the second part of the board’s plans involves the Trakas Industrial Site in the Jonesville area. She said the 164-acre site which, like Commerce Park, is located between U.S. 176 and S.C. 18, will also be developed to help make Union County more attractive to industry.

Another sign of the diversification of the county’s economy has been the arrival of the Dollar General and Belk distribution/fulfillment centers, more of which could be attracted to the county through the second phase of the board’s plan.

“Part two of the plan is to make some much-needed improvements to Trakas Industrial Site,” Powell-Baker said. “We’ll be marketing it to big box assembly and warehousing companies.”

Powell-Baker said the improvements would include an entrance with signage, landscaping, and two 100,000 square-foot building pads at the site. Unlike the spec building at Commerce Park, Powell-Baker said the pads would allow a prospective industry to build its own facility.

“The advantage of these is that a prospect can come in and look at a site that has much of the grading completed,” Powell-Baker said. “They can then actually construct their own building on the site which is ready for construction.”

Another aspect of the Trakas site which Powell-Baker said should appeal to those industries is its close proximity to the Norfolk & Southern Railroad that runs along the other side of S.C. 18. Powell-Baker pointed out that 35 percent of the industrial prospects that request information on Union County required access to railroads. She said the Trakas Industrial’s Site’s location makes it attractive to these companies.

The improvements to the Trakas Industrial Site are projected to cost approximately $705,000. Powell-Baker said that the primary funding for the improvements will come through Broad River Electric Cooperative utility tax credits.

Phase III

Powell-Baker said the third phase of the plan involves a road extension at Midway Industrial Park. The site is certified and owned by Pacolet Milliken Enterprises. The extension is estimated to cost approximately $595,000 and would be financed through a partnership with Lockhart Power and their utility tax credits and other funding sources.

Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at cwarner@civitasmedia.com.