The crowd gathered in Newberry’s Memorial Park Wednesday cheered the announcement of Samsung choosing the Newberry County to set up its newest manufacturing plant.
Newberry County Council Chairman Buddy Livingston reminisced about Newberry’s situation just over 14 months prior when its largest employer and taxpayer would be shuttering its 453,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, putting 300 people out of work.
“People were stopping me in stores, restaurants and ballgames asking me what we’re going to do,” Livingston said. “I told them don’t worry, we will find a way. We have a good, solid building to market, a staff of hard-working people that will go to the ends of the earth to bring jobs and investments to Newberry and a community of the best and reliable workers anywhere.”
Livingston said he was reminded of the old proverb when one door closes another door opens and he credits Samsung with being that door that helped save Newberry County.
“In terms of economic development, nothing this big has ever happened in this community,” Livingston said. “It’s a major win on any scale.”
Samsung announced Wednesday plans to invest $380 million to launch a home appliance manufacturing operation. The company plans to have over 950 workers at the facility by 2020.
Tim Baxter, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics America, credited the state’s highly skilled workforce as one of the deciding factors in choosing Newberry County.
“You earned that reputation, and you’re earning this selection in large part based on that asset,” Baxter told the crowd Wednesday.
Baxter was also impressed with the state’s strong supply chain and transportation infrastructure. While also finding a building that will allow the company to be manufacturing sooner rather than later.
“We treat these products like lettuce,” Baxter said. “Everything has to be moved properly, get to the right store and get out or it begins to age. By choosing an existing facility we keep our environmental footprint as small as possible while getting to work as quickly as possible.”
Samsung officials plan to have the facility operational by early 2018.
Gov. Henry McMaster said the addition of Samsung to the South Carolina shows that the state is the center of the new industrial revolution that is built on innovation, nanotechnology and data analytics.
“We are leading the way, rising toward a faster trajectory of prosperity,” McMaster said. “Not only can we be a model for the rest of the country, but for future generations who will be stronger, smarter and happier.”
According to Baxter, Samsung will be moving quickly, but he said the company feels confident that they can be up and ready by the projected start time. He also said the company plans to create a local presence in the community.
“We will host a number of different types of jobs, from planning, logistics, manufacturing to operations,” Baxter said. “A skilled workforce is important to get the parts in, get things produced and get the products out.”
Livingston said the process was not an easy one, as the project had a number of moving parts.
“We were trying to put a lot of the puzzle together at the right time,” Livingston said. “With getting incentive packages, and getting the right teams together in the commerce department, the state and with the governor.”
Rick Farmer, director of economic development in Newberry, said Samsung will eventually acquire the building from Caterpillar, and the county has agreements in principle, but would not comment on any specific incentives.