Even with COVID-19 lingering around the world for 6 months, 2020 appears to be a respectable year for economic investments in Laurens County.
The Laurens County Development Corporation board heard on Sept. 15 that 2020 numbers, so far, are 200 new jobs and $57 million in new investment, with the county set to get 80 new jobs from a prospect code-named “Sugar Rush”. That’s about equal to the pre-COVID-19 numbers of 2019.
Jon Coleman, executive director of the Laurens County Development Corporation, said “Sugar Rush” is going to be in the Woodfields industrial park of Fountain Inn. The RFIs for 2020, 35, are about the same as this time in 2019, 40 (RFI is request for information). One stumbling block in RFIs for Laurens County in the past has been the lack of ready-to-go available buildings - now, within the next 3-4 weeks the county will have available for marketing a building in The Connexial Center (Gray Court/I-385) and has a finished building in the Clinton Commerce Center (near Clinton/I26).
The Connexial Center building is a development of the Laurens Electric Cooperative. The Commerce Center building is built and marketed by the Clinton Economic Development Corporation.
In the Connexial Center, LEC paid for 300 additional acres to be cleared of trees, Coleman said. The Upstate Alliance also is assisting in Laurens County with quality of life videos designed to be sent to industrial site recruiters, the board was told. The Alliance has member-investors in 10 Upstate counties.
LCDC also will receive a repayment grant of $25,000 from the SC Department of Commerce for professional-grade, drone video fly-overs of the Laurens County available industrial sites.
LCDC has used the time when recruiters are not traveling (because of coronavirus concerns) to encourage Census participation - the national deadline is Sept. 30 - and masks-wearing in businesses and indoor venues as a medically-accepted precaution against the potentially deadly COVID-19 illness (54 people have died in Laurens County). The board was told that School District 56, Clinton-Joanna-Cross Hill, had daily “I wear a mask because...” social media posts, and the mayors of Laurens County cities have participated in videos to promote mask-wearing.
In mid-October, LCDC and SC Works will stage an out-of-doors job fair for the Fountain Inn area, according to info presented to the board, which met for social-distancing at the Center for Advanced Manufacturing, a Piedmont Technical College facility on Hwy 221 at I-385, near the Walmart Distribution Center and Hunter Industrial Park, Laurens.