“Let's get open and start making money!”
A crowd cheered Thursday in response to those words from Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce President James McQuilla.
McQuilla spoke at the ribbon-cutting for QuikTrip Corporation’s newest, $7 million travel center. The travel center is located near the Orangeburg County/City Industrial Park at the U.S. Highway 301 and Interstate 26 interchange.
“We are excited to be in this community,” said Charles Walker, QuickTrip’s operations manager for the Greenville division.
“This is not just us opening up a new location, but we want to be a part of the community. It is big for us that we serve the communities we operate in. We look forward to a great partnership,” he said.
Walker said the company, commonly known as QT, chose the Orangeburg market as part of a business expansion effort.
“We want to go where the business is and part of that is coming to, stretching out and getting a little more south and a little more involved in different communities,” Walker said. “This felt like a good spot for us. We have a really good real estate department that selects sites for us.”
The travel center is QuikTrip's new model Generation 3 facility, which includes a QT kitchen area where food such as pizzas, flatbreads and toasted sandwiches can be made. It also offers made-to-order tacos.
"Anything you want, we sell it," Walker said.
The center occupies six acres and includes 20 gas pumps able to service 20 vehicles at the same time. The center also has about 10 truck bays.
It employs about two dozen.
Orangeburg County Development Commission Executive Director Gregg Robinson said he has been asked by a number of people, "What is QT?"
"I want you to think quality: quality gas, quality products, quality people where you can have a quality experience," Robinson said.
QT is directly in front of the Orangeburg County/City Industrial Park, where over 1,000 individuals are employed. Allied Air is also building an additional 400,000-square-foot distribution facility at the park.
Robinson noted QT will be key to serving the 33,000 cars that travel on U.S. 301 daily.
The S.C. Department of Transportation helped to facilitate the construction of a light signals and mast arms on U.S. 301 as well as a light signal at the Orangeburg County/City Industrial Park.
Orangeburg County Council Chairman Johnnie Wright praised the company for choosing Orangeburg.
"I am sure you all will do good here because we have a lot of traffic and I hope other companies will follow through," Wright said. "I know this area here is going to develop. We are looking forward to more growth."
Wright said the facility is an asset for the employees and employers at the industrial park.
"This adds a lot more amenities to the 301 and I-26 exit," Wright said. "This is really great!"
McQuilla expressed his hopes that the store will prompt people to explore the community and the Orangeburg area further.
“In fact, I would ask when someone comes and they are coming off the interstate and they say, ‘Well, you know we are heading to Charleston’ just look at them and say ‘Don't do that! Stay here,’” he said.
QT is a privately held company based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The $11 billion company has over 850 stores in eleven states and employs about 24,000. QT operates 56 stores in South Carolina, with most in the Upstate.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.