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EDITORIAL: Manufacturing is important to Orangeburg
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EDITORIAL: Manufacturing is important to Orangeburg

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The year 2020 was a tough one with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Local industries felt the effects, but they rebounded and are looking to the future.

Orangeburg County boasts a diverse industrial landscape of more than 100 firms, with manufacturers employing over 8,000.

About 19% of the county's population works in manufacturing, according to the South Carolina Department of Employment & Workforce Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages from the third quarter of 2020. Manufacturing is the largest sector of the county's workforce, with 5,150 individuals employed in manufacturing out of a workforce of 26,824.

A 2020 study shows the entire state has reason to appreciate manufacturing.

SC Future Makers, a nonprofit workforce and education organization affiliated with the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance, released the economic impact study of South Carolina's manufacturing industry. Prepared by Dr. Joseph Von Nessen, Research Economist with the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, the study documents the uniquely large footprint that manufacturing maintains in the Palmetto State that has an estimated economic impact that totals between $194 billion and $206 billion annually.

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Key economic impact findings from the study include:

• 16% of the State's GDP is associated with manufacturing; manufacturing supports, either directly or indirectly, over 30% of all jobs statewide.

• Industries pay well and average an annual salary that is 33% higher than the state's average wage.

• Manufacturing creates more jobs than virtually any other sector and has a multiplier effect of 2.4.

• 38% of South Carolina's General Fund revenue comes from the manufacturing industry.

• South Carolina manufacturing is largely anchored by the aerospace, automotive and tire sectors along with their extended supply chains. These three sectors experienced growth at a collective rate of more than three times the state average over the past decade.

"The manufacturing industry has been the driving force of our state's economy for over a century," said Sara Hazzard, president and CEO of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance. "The value and promise that American manufacturing provides is South Carolina's story. Ours is an industry that offers great careers, drives innovation, transforms communities for the better, and creates lasting impacts that benefit all South Carolinians."

The study reinforces the strong foundation the manufacturing industry has in South Carolina and the economic stability it creates, a foundation reinforced recently by Gov. Henry McMaster in recognizing Ocotober as S.C. Manufacturing Month.

In Orangeburg County, the month brings good news from a site for which there has been high hopes for years.

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Thirteen years ago, Dubai World, parent company of Jafza International, said it was considering Orangeburg County for a $600-700 million logistics, manufacturing and distribution center. The recession that began in 2007 changed the plans and has left the site with minor development over more than a decade.

That is changing with activity at the 1,322-acre “South Carolina Gateway Industrial Park,” formerly known as JAFZA Magna Park. Two pads have been built at the site to house future speculative buildings.

One pad is on a 22-acre site and will house a 250,000-square-foot speculative building. The other pad is a 20-acre site and will house a 125,000-square-foot spec building, according to the project's website.

"DP World is excited to move this project forward both on a small scale -- the first building -- but on a larger scale of growing the park in what we refer to as our premier industrial park in the U.S.," Vice President of Parks Logistics and Zones DP World Brian Hoffman says in a video presentation on the company's website about the Santee project.

Hoffman says the park's master plan projects upwards of 6.5 million square feet of building space. About 350 acres are currently available for sale or built-to-suit development.

"The reason we are seeing speculative buildings and pads being developed is because of the commitment from County Council and our utilities to make the sites more readily available," Orangeburg County Development Commission Executive Director Gregg Robinson said. "We are preparing ourselves for the future investment."

And it should come to a county that is positioned for growth, in manufacturing and with other enteprises. Combine the development moving from Charleston and Columbia toward Orangeburg County with the new interchange at Interstate 95 and U.S. 301, and plans to widen Interstate 26 through the county and improve the I-95/I-26 interchange, and the logistics stars are aligning.

Orangeburg County has reason to appreciate manufacturing during this October observance, but we’re looking for even bigger and better things going forward.

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