Good Investment Numbers
INDUSTRY RECRUITERS AT WORK.
LCDC board adopts a budget, investment now over last year
By Vic MacDonald
Budgeted at just over a half million dollars, the Laurens County Development Corporation for 2021 will continue efforts that so far in 2020 have brought in $56.97 million in new investments.
That figure - better than at this time in 2019 - expects to generate 200 new jobs for the Laurens County workforce.
Jon Coleman, President and CEO, said he expects another win before the end of this year, marked by the global COVID-19-Coronavirus pandemic.
LCDC scored earlier this month with an announcement by Setterstix for an $11.7 million investment in the Woodfields industrial area of Northern Laurens County.
The LCDC board approved next year’s budget and heard Coleman’s assessment at its regular meeting last Tuesday in the rear training room of the Center for Advanced Manufacturing, a Piedmont Technical College facility, near Laurens. The spacious training room provides ample area for social-distance seating for board members.
Recommended by Dr. David Pitts, board treasurer, the 2021 budget will be $585,521 in expenditures. The $541,500 in expected revenues will be supplemented by $44,021 from contingency funds to balance. The primary source of revenue is $360,000 from Laurens County government, along with $130,000 from 13 members paying $10,000 each. Primary expenditure is $241,900 for a four-person staff, along with $24,000/annual for rent and overhead in an office with the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce in the Professional Park, between Clinton and Laurens. The agency budgets $33,120 to be a member of the Upstate Alliance.
LCDC Vice-President Lynn Finley reported that Laurens County’s COVID-19-affected unemployment rate is 4.8% - slightly better than the South Carolina rate of 5.1%. She reported on a jobs fair held in Fountain Inn, a donation of PPE by Norbord and ZF Transmissions, the golf tournament staged in October, progress on the 2020 wage survey, and the 2021 board meetings schedule.
Marketing Director Whitney Lagrange reported on drone fly-over days, when she and Coleman record aerial images for virtual tours of the county’s industrial sites and spec buildings. A building available for purchase/lease in The Connexial Center, Northern Laurens County, is ready, the board was told.
Lagrange said updates are being made to the LCDC YouTube channel, board member spotlights are continuing, the agency’s annual report will be presented electronically, and the Wear It masking initiative to fight the coronavirus is continuing.
The board was told the Jan. 19, 2021 annual meeting would be a Zoom virtual meeting this year, and there would be electronic voting for new board members next month. Randy Garrett, representing Laurens Electric, served his final meeting as board chairman, and John Young, representing Laurens Commission of Public Works, is the chairman-elect. Dr. David Pitts, representing Laurens County Council, and Stan Bryson, representing Clinton-Newberry Natural Gas Authority, attended their final meeting last Tuesday.
LCDC Strategic Plan is on hold overall, but staff members have work assigned
By Vic MacDonald
Even without in-person, small-group meetings, the industry recruiters for Laurens County will make progress on their “working document,” a strategic plan in the process for 2020-21.
The planning was well underway when COVID-19 hit in March. Then, small-group meetings were discouraged, and consultants with Ernst & Young were not flying, as a way to slow down the spread of the fast-moving coronavirus. Nine months later, the plan has morphed into what each staff member can do to enhance the work of Laurens County’s industry recruiting and retention effort.
A strategic plan update presented to the Laurens County Development Corporation board last Tuesday says, in part: “Challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic hampered the socialization and implementation of this larger plan and its rollout has been delayed until further notice.
“However, the work must continue. As such, this short-term implementation plan was developed to provide recommendations as to how the LCDC could activate high priority elements within the larger plan while also educating and engaging core partners in refining their future roles in supporting continued economic growth and prosperity.
“It is important to reiterate, the LCDC team is presently executing a comprehensive program of work that has proven to be successful in industry expansion and recruitment and is gaining momentum in talent development.”
Jon Coleman, President and CEO, is charged with the task of educating the Laurens County leadership on some challenges that the initial work on the strategic plan uncovered. He will address:
“Leaders across the county to provide an update on the plan
“City leaders and Main Street Associations on small business support
“Chamber of Commerce on updates to leadership programs.”
Coleman has seven other areas of work within this staff-driven version of the strategic plan.
He is to communicate with local, regional and state leaders about COVID-19 related assistance for businesses. He is to make sure that state leaders are aware of Laurens County’s strengths related to new industries, “especially those related to COVID-19,” the action plan says.
Vice-President Lynn Finley is charged with developing “business solution teams” that can address concerns, particularly child-care and re-employment. She is to work with the State Commerce Department and Upstate allies to identify leading practices and share these with existing industries. She will share leading practices and success stories related to apprenticeships, internships and mentors.
Finley has 11 objectives in the area of existing industry, investor relations, and operations and finance.
She is to “work in partnership with the director of marketing in convening event coordinators for local job fairs and industry showcases to evaluate short- and long-term plans for the events. Reach out to the event coordinators in the region to share leading practices and resources for conducting these events virtually.”
In Marketing, Director Whitney Lagrange is instructed to “convene a network of communications partners within Laurens County. It would be wise to include a representative from the Upstate SC Alliance as well to expend the reach of content. Commit to a content calendar and sharing agreements to increase message alignment. Continue social media efforts to inform and celebrate Laurens County and the LCDC to residents, stakeholders, allies and prospects. ... Work with vice president to obtain testimonials from existing industries, especially ones that received direct support from the LCDC during the pandemic.”
Among her nine objectives in two main areas, Lagrange is charged with conducting virtual site selection tours and updating the website to include new target industries.
(More on the LCDC: www.GrowLaurensCounty.com)
FYI -- SC Elsewhere:
Mark Anthony Brewing building $400 million state-of-the-art facility in Richland County
to keep up with explosive
demand for White Claw Hard Seltzer
Mark Anthony Brewing announced plans to build a new state-of-the-art brewery and production facility in Richland County.
The company's $400 million investment will create 300 new jobs and represents one the largest economic investments in Richland County history. This will be one of the largest breweries built in the U.S. in over 25 years.
Mark Anthony Brewing provides supply chain management and brewing services for The Mark Anthony Group, one of North America's fastest-growing beverage companies, and is the leader in the explosive Hard Seltzer and Flavored Malt Beverage categories, according to IRI Worldwide data.
Located in Pineview Industrial Park in Columbia, Mark Anthony Brewing's new facility will produce White Claw Hard Seltzer, Mike's Hard Lemonade, Mike's Harder Lemonade and Cayman Jack Cocktails. The new facility will provide much-needed capacity to keep up with consumer demand in the southern United States. Warehousing and distribution operations will also be located on-site.
Construction is slated to begin almost immediately, and the more than one million square-foot facility will be built at record speed and is expected to be fully operational by summer 2021.
The Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved job development credits related to this project and awarded a $4.6 million Set-Aside grant to Richland County for infrastructure improvement. Richland County was also awarded a $1.5 million LocateSC grant to offset costs associated with acquiring and developing property adjacent to the project for the purpose of developing rail-served industrial sites inventory now and in the future.
COVID Tests - Charleston
Vigilent Labs, an advanced health and medical technology company, announced plans to establish operations in Charleston County.
The company is investing more than $104.6 million and will create over 400 new jobs at its state-of-the-art COVID-19 test manufacturing facility in the Charleston Navy Yard.
Established in 2019, Vigilent Labs provides unique solutions to the detection, identification and assessment of health and bio-threats. The company's team has substantial experience in the development of medical and bio-surveillance technologies as well as medical devices.
Located at 1105 Truxton Avenue, Building 74 in North Charleston, Vigilent Labs' new operations will serve as the company's headquarters, which will include its East Coast production and manufacturing operations. Specifically, the company will work with its partners, SeroClinix and Leinco, to produce rapid COVID-19 antibody and antigen test kits. These FDA-approved and emergency use authorized test kits are cost-effective and will produce fast and accurate results in seven to 10 minutes.
The new facility will begin manufacturing activities in December. Vigilent Labs is working with readySC to assist in recruiting and training prospective employees. The Coordinating Council for Economic Development has awarded a $1 million Set-Aside grant to Charleston County to assist with costs related to this project.
BUC-EE'S CONDUCTS FLORENCE, I-95 GROUNDBREAKING
Florence – Buc-ee’s, home of the world’s cleanest bathrooms, freshest food and friendliest beaver, broke ground on its new travel center in Florence, eastern South Carolina with the sun shining and many local and state dignitaries in attendance.
Buc-ee’s Florence will occupy more than 53,200 square feet and offer 120 fueling positions just outside its store with thousands of snack, meal and drink options for travelers on the go. Located at the northeast corner of Interstate 95 and North Williston, this will be the first Buc-ee’s location in South Carolina.
“This represents a $35 million private investment and will create around 200 jobs,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “This showcases a positive for this area and will encourage people to stop and look at what we have in South Carolina.” Speakers for Buc-ee’s Groundbreaking Ceremony included Florence County Councilman Reverend Waymon Mumford; Florence County Council Chairman Willard Dorriety, Jr.; newly elected Florence Mayor Teresa Myers Ervin; State Senator Hugh Leatherman; Governor Henry McMaster; State Representative Murrell Smith; and Buc-ee's Founder Arch "Beaver" Aplin III.
“You know I’ve been a Senator for 40 years, and governor, you probably never thought we’d be at a groundbreaking for a gas station. But it’s not a gas station, it’s Buc-ee’s,” said State Sen. Hugh Leatherman.
Founded in 1982, Buc-ee’s now has 39 stores across Texas, Alabama and Georgia, and plans to open its first Florida outpost in 2021. Buc-ee’s is known for pristine bathrooms, the most competitively priced gasoline, friendly service, Buc-ee’s apparel and fresh, delicious food. Originally launched and still headquartered in Texas, Buc-ee’s has combined traditional quality and modern efficiency to redefine traveling for their customers.