While economic activity creaked to a halt last spring with a shutdown spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic, 25 companies made a record $631 million in capital investment commitments in Greenville County last year.
The promised investment, comprised of commitments from both domestic and foreign companies that either expanded or located in the county, is set to enhance the county’s tax base and add 1,422 new jobs. This pushes the cumulative number of jobs created under the Greenville Area Development Corp.’s purview to 30,000 since the economic development body has been in existence.
Mark Farris, president and CEO of the GADC, called 2020 “one of Greenville County’s most rewarding and remarkable years ever in terms of economic development” out of its 20 years.
The previous investment record, set in 2014, reached $476 million.
“The year began normally for everyone, and we were bullish on 2020 coming off one of Greenville’s best years ever for economic development in 2019,” Farris said. “But when COVID hit in March, all bets were off. As organizations of all types have done, we had to completely rethink how to conduct business to keep the investment and growth pipeline open for Greenville County. I couldn’t be prouder of our team, our board and our investors and allies, and the year’s results speak for themselves.”
Out of the 25 economic development announcements, 17 were existing industries in the area including Michelin, Solvay, Nutra, Fitesa and Lockheed Martin. Eight companies, including DC Blox, Abat, Refresco and Kellstrom Defense, located to the county.
“The industries are diverse, with 17 of our newly located or expansion announcements being in our core manufacturing and distribution industries, while eight others fall into IT, office, headquarters, or other segments,” Farris said. “That diversity helps to balance and insulate the local economy in challenging times like we have just gone through and provides the community with a varied economy that is robust and multi-faceted. Equally of note is that 15 of the announcements are in the GADC’s defined target industries, which indicates that we continue to put the right emphasis and resources against verticals of highest potential.”
These industries include the advanced materials, automotive, aviation/aerospace, bioscience, data center and corporate office sectors, according to GADC’s website.
The past year also brought six speculative industrial and office properties to Greenville County, adding almost 1 million square feet to the commercial real estate market, according to the release.
“Greenville County uses smart, strategic economic development to opens paths for residents to improve their quality of life through meaningful employment, and to help them contribute to the broader community by creating avenues for self-improvement and financial security,” Willis Meadows, chairman of Greenville County Council and a member of the GADC Board of Directors. “These results show that we are building on the depth and breadth of a solid foundation and that the future here looks bright indeed.”
Farris argued in the release that the $1.2 million secured in grant funding from the Commerce Department, state, Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas were critical in helping move these 25 investments forward. These grants helped mitigate infrastructure development, site preparation and engineering costs of the projects.
“We can be confident that our community is doing the right things when we find existing industry deciding to invest limited and precious resources in expanding here in Greenville County,” he said in the release. “The decision on where to place those investments and where to expand is incredibly competitive nationally and globally, and there is no stronger endorsement of a community being business friendly than winning more than our fair share of such expansions right here in Greenville.”