Despite the risks of a global pandemic, existing industries in Greenwood County are moving forward with expansion plans while a few new additions wait in the wings.
“We have been very fortunate that some of the existing industries that have previously planned to expand persisted with those plans and we have been able to get some of those announcements out this week,” said Heather Simmons Jones, CEO of the Greenwood Partnership Alliance. “We have seen other companies continue to look at Greenwood over the past few months. There has been a lot of activity.”
According to Jones, the expansions of Eaton and Velux Greenwood LLC, announced this week, are the first of four existing industry expansions on the county’s radar. With demand exceeding supply for industrial space, Jones said a speculative property is being planned.
The two remaining expansions will be announced within the next four weeks, as well as two incoming companies. Jones said she does not see major reshore or repatriation trends as predicted by some economic developers, but she credited the county’s business-friendly environment for enabling established businesses to ramp up their capacity or seek out new facilities despite uncertainty on the global market.
“We have created a strong value proposition here for companies and have supported both Eaton and Velux for decades. So each of those industries have multiple companies within Greenwood that have continued to grow through the years,” Jones said.
For example, Velux has been in the region for decades, but over the past six and a half years, the skylight manufacturing company has initiated several expansions, she said.
“That is largely in part due to the way they have been treated over the past few decades and the level of cooperation that they’ve felt with the county as well as the support they have received from the partnership. There were some incentives involved in this recent expansion, and I’m sure that played a part in their decision-making process as well,” she said, adding that the county spearheaded these initiatives.
Velux on Thursday announced a $26 million investment to increase their production capacity for skylight, tubular daylighting devices, dome skylights and glass pane products at the Greenwood facility.
“Demand for natural light and fresh air from above has been trending upward over the past five years,” Chuck Rimsky, president of Velux Greenwood, said in an email. “We believe that adding daylight from above and fresh air to homes is top of mind for homeowners who want to create better living environments in their homes. We are also increasing our market share in commercial skylights.”
Rimsky did not specify how many jobs the expansion might bring to the area, but the news release did indicate that the company would be looking to bolster its workforce with the expansion.
“Our growth and investment over the past decade in Greenwood County have surpassed our original plans. We are confident these future investments and commitment to Greenwood County will benefit our customers, local staff and contribute to the county and state economic development,” he said in the release.
Power management technology company Eaton also will be growing its capacity by consolidating multiple Greenwood County sites at one plant at 5502 U.S. Highway 25 N. in Hodges with the addition of 30 new jobs.
“The announcement by Eaton is a great example of team South Carolina’s strength and shows why we are ‘just right’ for business. We congratulate Eaton, and we look forward to watching them continue to grow for years to come,” S.C. Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt said in the release.n