Gov. Nikki Haley called the announcement of three new businesses moving to York and Chester counties “the most jobs announced in a single day in South Carolina’s history.” It also was a day the two counties – especially Chester County – have been awaiting for some time.
The move by Giti Tire, a Singapore-based manufacturer, to build a $560 million plant in Chester County might be the most significant of the three simply because it is likely to transform the economic base of the county. The project, based at the so-called “mega site” in Richburg, is expected to create 1,700 jobs over the next decade.
Chester County has suffered since its textile mills closed decades ago, often recording some of the highest unemployment rates in the state. But the county also has been ripe for development, ideally located for an operation such as Giti.
The mega site is a 1,000-plus acre parcel off Interstate 77, bounded by S.C. 9 on the north and Old Richburg Road to the south, providing easy access to the port of Charleston and airports in Columbia and Charlotte. The interstate also gives Giti access to its warehouses in Georgia and Texas.
The transformation won’t occur overnight. It will take a decade for many of the jobs to materialize, and not all of them will be filled by Chester County residents.
Nonetheless, the project will spawn other associated development and should provide an enormous economic shot in the arm for the county. It also is gratifying that Giti officials say they chose Chester County among other finalists because of the enthusiasm and commitment of its residents.
Chester County Supervisor Carlisle Roddey has complained that the county has too often been the bridesmaid but never the bride. Residents now can start throwing rice.
York County also had a big day. Two companies will leave Charlotte and move to Fort Mill, bringing a total of 5,400 jobs and $240 million in development with them.
LPL Financial Carolinas, the nation’s largest independent brokerage and financial advisory firm, and the Lash Group, a health care consulting firm, both will build at Fort Mill’s Kingsley North business park near the intersection of S.C. 160 and Interstate 77. More specifically, their offices will be just minutes from the 2,100-acre Ann Springs Close Greenway, a benefit cited by both companies as crucial to their decision to locate in York County.
Mark Casady, chairman and CEO of LPL Financial, said that in addition to access to the Greenway, the undeveloped site at the business park gives the company the chance to build a totally green complex with “net zero” energy consumption. The building also is expected to feature a fitness center, a cafe and possibly an on-site day care center.
Lash Group officials also cited the proximity to the Greenway, which employees and clients will be able to use for health, wellness and corporate events. This should send a clear message to local development officials that preserving green space is a good idea on many levels.
As in Chester County, these two projects won’t spring up overnight. Neither office complex will be open for occupancy until 2016.
But each eventually will bring thousands of jobs and substantial economic activity to the county.
We’re accustomed to hearing about new big-ticket projects cropping up in other parts of the state. But to have three huge projects in our own backyard announced on the same day was breathtaking.
York and Chester counties are open for business. Bring on another record-setting day.