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Upstate communities make ’Dixie Dozen’ list

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Four Upstate communities are named in Southern Business & Development’s “Dixie Dozen: Small Towns, Big Deals” feature, which recognizes successful economic development efforts among communities with a population of 200,000 or less. The list recognizes investment and job creation from 2010-2016, according to a news release.

Cherokee, Laurens, Oconee and Pickens counties were among the 14 South Carolina communities highlighted in the current edition of the publication, which covers economic development in the American South. 

“Having Cherokee, Laurens, Oconee and Pickens counties recognized for their industrial recruitment successes and economic growth demonstrates that the Upstate is a great place to do business, with communities of various sizes and strengths,” said John Lummus, president and CEO of the Upstate SC Alliance, in the release. “We are proud the Upstate has such a strong presence in this feature.”

Jim Cook, executive director of the Cherokee County Development Board, said, in the release, “many people here have worked hard to make our community a strong location for manufacturing and distribution operations.

Ray Farley, Alliance Pickens executive director, highlighted the Scholar Technician program in Pickens County, saying the community’s actions are making the county successful.

“While we are pleased with the recognition by Southern Business & Development Magazine of our efforts in Pickens County, we are perhaps most pleased with our community's actions that resulted in these announcements,” Farley said, in the release. “Our Scholar Technician initiative directed toward increasing the volume and velocity of Pickens County students preparing for STEM Manufacturing careers in our schools, combined with a county leadership committed to developing pad ready industrial sites, have collectively helped cause our recent project announcements.”

Part of Oconee County’s success, and subsequent recognition in the magazine, can be attributed to location, according to Richard Blackwell, executive director of the Oconee Economic Alliance

“It is a testament to being well-positioned in Upstate South Carolina along the Interstate 85 corridor, paired up with a deep skilled talent pool to go with our three new industrial parks,” he said.

Jonathan A. Coleman, executive director of the Laurens County Development Corp., said Laurens County “experienced great industrial recruitment success” between 2010 and 2016, and that “we have built upon those successes to make our environment even better for business.”

“We continue to make strides in the right direction and hope the next six years will be even better,” Coleman said.

Overall, the Upstate saw $13.3 billion in capital investment from 2010-2016, with more than 37,515 jobs created, according to the Upstate SC Alliance.

Recent announcements of Belgium-based Moderna Products investing $6.5 million in Cherokee County, ZF Transmission’s largest North American investment in Laurens County with $400 million, BASF’s $60 million facility expansion in Oconee County, and the $13 million invested by Taylor Made in Pickens County were among the projects highlighted by the publication.  

The other Palmetto State counties highlighted in the publication are Aiken, Chester, Clarendon, Dorchester, Florence, Kershaw, Lancaster, Newberry, Orangeburg and Sumter.

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