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DEALS OF THE YEAR: China Jushi's $300M investment tops Midlands projects

Manufacturing
Chuck Crumbo
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China Jushi executives along with state and local leaders join in Dec. 8 groundbreaking celebration at Pineview Industrial Park in Richland County. (Photo/Chuck Crumbo)China Jushi’s plans to invest $300 million and create 400 jobs in Richland County tops 2016’s list of top economic development deals in the Midlands.

The Zhejiang, China-based manufacturer of fiberglass reinforcements and fabrics used by the reinforced plastics industry broke ground for its first U.S. plant on Dec. 8. Construction of the plant at the 900-acre Pineview Industrial Park in Southeast Columbia is expected to be completed within two years.

During the year, Midlands counties reaped nearly $440 million in investments expected to create more than 900 jobs, according to a tally culled from S.C. Department of Commerce press releases. The deals ranged from additions to existing plants to new installations in South Carolina. About $42 million of the investments involved construction of solar installations.

The China Jushi deal is the largest economic development announcement in Richland County since Union Camp hatched plans for a $600 million paper mill in Eastover in 1981, county officials said, citing S.C. Department of Commerce records.

“Jushi USA will be provided with a good environment for growth and a good talent pool,” Yuqiang Zhang, president of China Jushi said during the groundbreaking ceremony. “This will be China Jushi’s second largest overseas plant … We’ll do our best to contribute to the local economy.”

In addition, the China Jushi announcement represents another example of the state’s ability to attract foreign direct investment. During the spring, fDi magazine ranked South Carolina as its national champion in recruiting overseas-based companies to investment in the state.                                        

“Bringing jobs and investment from across the world into both our state and nation are critical components of Team South Carolina’s economic development strategy,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt. “With approximately 1,200 international establishments currently operating and employing more than 115,000 workers within our borders, it’s clear that the strategy is working.”

The magazine’s No. 1 ranking of South Carolina was based on data collected on foreign direct investment projects in the United States between September 2014 and August 2015. South Carolina topped North Carolina, Indiana and California for the title.

Here’s a review of the region’s other top deals in 2016, listed by date of announcement:

DEC. 14: MM Technics, the new American subsidiary of Germany-based Muhr Metalltechnik, Gmbh + Co. KG, announced it will  build a metal stamping facility at Mid-Carolina Commerce Park in Newberry County.

The company, a supplier for BMW located in neighboring Spartanburg County, plans to invest at least $12.6 million and create 65 jobs over the next five years, according to a press release.

“Our site selection process was long and difficult, but in the end we found that Newberry County had the right site and the right community for us,” MM Technics president Meinolf Muhr said. “We thank the county and its leadership for guiding us through the process and solving every problem that presented itself along the way.”

Headquartered in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, Muhr Metalltechnik employs more than 200 workers at its flagship facility in Wenden and a second plant in Poland.

The company uses mechanical feed presses, deep drawing hydraulic presses and fully-automated cutting and welding equipment to supply more than 15 automotive companies in Europe.

OCT. 20: Mount Franklin Foods, a manufacturer of candy and nut products, $10 million in a new plant in Sumter County, creating 225 jobs.

The El Paso, Texas-based foodservice distributor will be located in the Live Oak Industrial Park. The project involves expansion of the company’s multi-line candy business and adding organic and nutraceutical products that are fortified with multivitamins, probiotics and other ingredients. Hiring for new positions is set to begin in the first quarter of 2017.

“Everyone at Mount Franklin Foods is excited about our operations in Sumter, South Carolina,” Mount Franklin president and CEO Gary Ricco said in a statement. “This new location will provide us with a strong platform for driving revenues by continuing to serve our customers with compelling product offerings.”

OCT. 18: West Fraser, a diversified wood products company, $33 million expansion of its Newberry County sawmill operations and install a log merchandiser designed to increase production by more than 37%.

Established in 1955, West Fraser produces lumber, laminated veneer lumber, medium-density fiberboard, plywood, pulp, newsprint and wood chips, as well as energy through several bioenergy initiatives.

 “West Fraser believes in making investments to improve our operation,” DJ Russell, general manager of the Newberry mill, said in a statement. “This initiative will support our capital investment to expand production at the mill. Building a strong business supports our mill’s competitiveness so we can continue to be an active employer and a positive contributor to Newberry County.”

The sawmill employs 155 workers.

JULY 5: Lexington-headquartered Prysmian Group North America, a manufacturer of electrical cables, invest $1.9 million and add five jobs in the expansion of its existing operations in Abbeville County.

“The Abbeville plant is the cornerstone of the operations of Prysmian North America, and we are blessed to have sustained business from longtime customers combined with some new relationships,” said Cecil Talley, director of operations at the Abbeville plant

Opened in 1964, the company’s Abbeville facility on S.C. Highway 28 is one of 10 North American locations for the international manufacturer and is home to the only vertical continuous vulcanization line in North America. Over the last six years, Prysmian Group has invested approximately $20 million in improvements and expansions at the facility.

JUNE 30: Pure Power Technologies, a manufacturer of new and remanufactured diesel fuel injectors for OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and the aftermarket, plans to invest $15 million in the expansion of its Blythewood facility and create 79 jobs.

“This new addition affords us the opportunity for aggressive growth and to pursue new market channels in the OEM and aftermarket space,” said Jerry Sweetland, president and CEO of Pure Power Technologies.

MAY 12: Southeast Frozen Foods, a company that provides retail distribution to grocery stores and cold storage for processors, manufacturers and distributors, to invest $6 million and create 30 jobs at its Calhoun County operations. The announcement marks Southeast Frozen Foods’ third expansion over the last eight years at the Midlands operation, representing more than $20 million in cumulative capital investments and more than 100 jobs created.

MAY 5:  Husqvarna Consumer Outdoor Products N.A. Inc., a manufacturer of outdoor power products, to invest $29 million and build a 513,000-square-foot building on its current site on Old Elloree Road in Orangeburg. The expanded area will serve primarily as warehousing, staging and storage for the existing facility. The distribution center is scheduled for completion in December in preparation of the 2017 outdoor power season.

MARCH 24: Falcon Boats invested $1.5 million in establishing operations in Newberry County for the manufacturing of a new line of sport fishing boats. The company, which purchased an existing building at 750 Wilson Road in Newberry, plans to create 35 jobs during the next five years.

Initially established as Marine Pro in Irmo, the company previously specialized in boat repair and modification.

MARCH 12: Cypress Creek Renewables, a company that specializes in the ownership and development of long-term solar energy projects, announced plans to invest $30 million in three solar energy facilities in Lexington County. This project complements two other Lexington County solar facilities in Swansea, which the company announced in August 2015.

The projects, all three of which are 10-megawatt facilities, will be located off of Old Charleston Road in Pelion.

ON JAN. 12: Cypress Creek announced it was investing $12 million in solar energy projects in Saluda County. The projects, a nine-megawatt facility located off of S.C. Highway 121 in Saluda and a four-megawatt facility located off Columbia Highway in Saluda, are expected to be fully operational by the end of 2016.

JAN. 5: AGY Holding Corp., a producer of glass fiber yarns and high-strength glass fiber reinforcement materials, said it was expanding its existing operations in Aiken County and creating 80 jobs over the next five years. The Aiken facility, which also serves as AGY’s headquarters, will principally include the expansion and upgrading of machinery and equipment.

Reach Chuck Crumbo at 803-726-7542.

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