Strategic and convenient.

Situated at the nexus between two major interstate highways -- just 41 miles from the state capital of Columbia and 75 miles from Charleston, which is rated of the top tourist destinations in the world -- Orangeburg County is in a great position, quite literally, to attract people and business.

With one foot in the Lowcountry and the other in the Midlands, the widely diverse and oddly shaped county -- the second largest in size in South Carolina at 1,111 square miles -- is home to more than 90,000 residents.

The micropolitan area anchored by the City of Orangeburg has a population of 70,000.

Two major interstate highways -- east-west I-26 and north-south I-95 -- intersect in Orangeburg County. And there's also Interstate 77 that joins I-26 just a short distance away near Columbia.

“Our proximity to the port of Charleston, our access to the interstates and our people, have made what we have dubbed as the Global Logistics Triangle, one of the places to be when it comes to economic development,” County Administrator Harold Young said.

The Global Logistics Triangle is the name Orangeburg County uses to market the area bordered by I-26, I-95 and U.S. 301.

A $41 million interchange improvement project developed a full-access interchange where I-95 and U.S. 301 meet. It saw the completion of three bridges and relocation of utility lines.

“Companies are seeing the value in being in a location near the port, with good interstate access,” Young said.

Orangeburg County has 11 interchanges on two interstates within the county, six on I-26 and five along I-95.

The county is within proximity of four major interstates within 30 minutes and has the second most highway miles and fifth most interstate miles in the entire state. 

On the county’s website, Executive Director of the Orangeburg County Development Commission Gregg Robinson said the location of Orangeburg County provides a tremendous advantage as far as proximity to port locations.

The county is close enough to take advantage of the Charleston and Savannah ports while at the same time, companies would not have to compete with wages, insurance rates or additional costs associated with proximity to water.

South Carolina as a whole is an ideal midpoint between New York and Miami, being in the Sunbelt region of the Southeastern United States.

Robinson said the county is in proximity to three of the largest markets in the Southeast: Charlotte, Atlanta and Jacksonville.

Being just a day-and-a-half drive at most to either of these locations allows companies to manufacture their products for less and maximize their returns making their investors happy.

Orangeburg County is also served by two major railroads: CSX and Norfolk Southern.

“Those are things that have a big difference on how freight is moved throughout the region,” Young said.

Robinson said the county has been successful in attracting and supporting quality industry from around the world. 

“Orangeburg County is one of the top industrialized counties in the state with almost 23 percent of its population working in manufacturing,” he said.  

South Carolina as a whole ranks fifth in the United States and has been one of the top locations for new, foreign direct investment, per capita, over the last decade.

The year 2017 has also brought commercial, retail and residential development: a new grocery store, a new bank, a new discount store, a retail strip mall, plus announcements for new hotels in Orangeburg and Santee.

"There is a lot going on," Robinson has said. "We are back with the commercial activity and the economy is responding well. It is an overall indication of better employment and opportunities from a manufacturing perspective and commercial follows suit."

According to Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce President Melinda Jackson, the number of projects in and around Orangeburg is a positive for the area.

"Competition keeps us all on our feet and can be quite healthy," she said. "The new bank will surely be a showpiece and the grocery store couldn’t be in a more prime location."

"It’s a great time to live in a small town," Jackson said. "Not only are we growing in new business developments, but we are also growing in collaborative efforts."

Jackson cited a renewed understanding of the need to work together for the betterment of the county and its municipalities.

"One Orangeburg is growing stronger in numbers and our education entities are pulling together to share great successes and real solutions for progress," she said. "It’s a great time to be in Orangeburg County and an even greater time to be a part of the chamber!"

Not to be forgotten are the Santee Cooper lakes, which provide 170,000 acres of fresh water. Boaters can even make their way to Charleston through the lakes' navigation lock.

Santee State Park on the shores of Lake Marion features lakefront cabins and campsites.

Earlier in October, a Columbia-based company announced that it is developing Three Twisted Oaks, a $50 million lakefront residential community in the Santee area.

"The growth and opportunity we see in Orangeburg with the industrial parks that you currently have and all the international companies looking to come here, you are in dire need of upscale housing," Three Twisted Oaks Marketing and Operations spokeswoman Bernita Jamison said.

The development is touted as a “multi-generational community with amenities for all ages.” It is to cover 691 acres with 1,100 homes/units including single-family homes, patio homes, estates, cottages and apartments.

Contact the writer: jmack@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5516.

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Government Reporter

John Mack is a 2016 graduate of Claflin University. He is an Orangeburg native.

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