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Lexington County looks to cash in on Volvo expansion

Manufacturing
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Among Lexington’s attractions is the availability of quality jobs, and many of those are provided by industry in the surrounding county.

EadesLexington County is home to a number of U.S. and international companies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, Lexington’s largest concentration of industry is in the automotive, health care, utilities, transportation and manufacturing sectors.

Mike Eades, who has been the county’s economic development director since November, says he continues to hear positive comments from the companies that choose to do business in Lexington County.

At a recent panel discussion on economic growth, a group of developers said there are a few criteria that every business looks for when deciding about building or relocating. They included a place to work, people to do the work and a way to transport that work to others.

Lexington County is attempting to check off all three boxes.

To ensure companies have a place to do business, Lexington County has either completed or is in the process of revamping three major industrial parks around the county. These parks will be used to attract new businesses to Lexington.

The Batesburg-Leesville Industrial Park has 175 acres that were purchased in 1999. The site has seen $3.5 million in infrastructure improvements including water, sewer, roadway, lighting and landscaping.

“Batesburg-Leesville is finished and ready to be occupied, there’s just a few finishing touches,” Eades said. “There are currently 115 to 120 usable acres right now and interest in the site has been favorable. It’s good to have some available property in that area.”

Eades said the widening of U.S. 1 into Batesburg-Leesville was a strong selling point. Currently, Fisher Tank Co. is housed in the park.

There are also plans for expansion of Saxe Gotha Industrial Park in Cayce. The park already features Amazon and Nephron Pharmaceuticals, but with the extension of 12th Street, Eades said it should open new land for future projects including Amazon’s Make on Demand Center.

The county also plans to open more property once some wetlands can be mitigated, Eades said. “We hope to make room for a bigger site to attract another group like Amazon.”

Eades said he expects economic development to continue to grow in Lexington County, especially with the new Volvo plant opening in Berkeley County.

“With (the Volvo) deal going in, we have a chance to get some auto supply business,” Eades said. “We don’t have an automotive assembly site, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see it happen sometime down the road.”

The county’s newest industrial park, being built in Chapin, is targeted at becoming a technology hub for IT businesses.

“The Chapin park is a little behind the Batesburg-Leesville project,” Eades said. “The roads have been paved and there is water and sewer along with cables for telecommunications.”

Eades said the design for the area is expected to bring in software firms and research and development. It’s a different product from the other parks being built.

AS more companies choose to locate in Lexington County, the population has increased. Mayor Steve MacDougall said Lexington’s population has grown by 80% in the last 10 years, and he expects another 80% growth over the next 10.

The increased population has given rise to an experienced labor force that Eades says is one of the biggest factors in the expansion of new business.

Transportation is also critical, and with three interstate highways in the county and access to the Port of Charleston, Lexington has been shown to be a good place to invest.

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April 19, 2017

In addition to Lexington, the counties that make up Santee Cooper Country, e.g. Orangeburg, Clarendon, should also benefit. They are at the crossroad of I-26 and I-95, closer to N. Charleston and the Volvo plant, have lower cost business and housing realty, several large industrial parks, not to mention the relaxing beauty of the Santee Cooper Lakes. We all look forward to what the Volvo plant means to growth in our state.