Gov. Nikki Haley and regional officials are expected to announce next week that two, and possibly three, companies will bring more than 6,000 jobs to York and Chester counties.
On June 16, Haley is scheduled to announce an automotive-related manufacturer will open a plant in Chester County. The company, which has not been identified, is expected to invest $560 million and employ 1,500.
Later that day, Haley is scheduled to announce at least one York County office project. Sources say a second office project could be announced that day too
Sources have told The Herald that the two projects represent an investment of more than $200 million and more than 5,000 jobs.
“Assuming we are successful, this would be the largest single-day job announcement in York County,” said Mark Farris, economic development director for the county.
“The face of Chester will change with this announcement,” predicted County Supervisor Carlisle Roddey.
The three possible announcements should have a significant impact on the local economy, said Lou Pantuosco, a Winthrop University economics professor.
Labor force participation and local income should rise, he said. An influx of new residents could also see a tightening of the housing market. Rental housing, which has been strong, may see a short-term increase, he said.
Roddey said he hopes the Chester project spurs more residential and retail development in the county.
According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, four of every ten possible workers in South Carolina are not looking for employment. The state’s labor force participation rate, which measures the share of working-age residents who are employed or looking for work, for April was 57.9 percent. Only Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia had lower rates, at 57.8 , 55.8 and 54 percent respectfully.
That rate should increase, Pantuosco said, as 70 percent of new jobs are usually filled by people not currently in the labor force.
Chester currently has the 10th highest unemployment rate in the state at 6.9 percent for April. A year ago Chester’s unemployment rate was 10.9 percent.
Nearby counties have seen a similar drop in the unemployment rate. York County’s April unemployment rate was 5.9 percent compared to 9.6 a year ago. Lancaster County’s was 5.8, down from 9.6, and Fairfield’s was 6.1, down from 9.4.
All four counties are expected to benefit from the Chester announcement.
Chester residents seeking work locally could benefit most. One out of every two workers in Chester commutes for a job, most often to either York or Mecklenburg County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Income levels should also increase as sources have said some of the new office jobs will pay three times the current median income in York County, which is $26,000.
The employment and income gain also create a multiplier effect as the new money enters the local economy. The increase in money usually creates more demand for goods, services and housing.
“More rooftops means more retail sales,” said Rob Youngblood, president of the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The local projects, especially Chester’s, could also spawn more jobs as more workers and higher incomes lead to increased purchases of food and retail items. Plus, automotive-related plants usually create about three other jobs because of the concentration of companies that supply the industry, said Joseph Von Nessen, an economist with the University of South Carolina.
The automotive industry’s rate of job creation is among the highest in the state, Von Nessen said.
Youngblood said the local impact depends on the types of jobs and whether people are living in or commuting to York County.
The names of the companies considering a move to the region have not been released. The Charlotte Business Journal has reported that one of the York County office projects is LPL Financial, which has about 1,000 jobs in Charlotte. Company officials have declined to comment on a possible move.
The other possible York project, as reported by the Charlotte Business Journal, is the Lash Group, a health-care consulting firm. Lash Group officials could not be reached for comment.
Even if employees of the new office projects live in Charlotte, York County benefits, Youngblood said, through additional retail sales and the fact they will pay South Carolina income taxes.
The negatives of having an increased workforce, he said, are increased traffic and more demands on education and other government services. “But that’s a good problem to have,” he said.