As Laurens County ushers in new investment and industry, the county’s economic development group seeks to attract and retain a healthy workforce through what the organization calls “vibrant, resilient and livable communities.”
The most recent economic development announcement in the area, Malouf Companies’ $47.2 million investment toward a new warehousing and distribution center at 101 Michelin Drive in Laurens, is expected to create 240 jobs in the area, according to a news release.
Site preparation and building improvements, aided through a $200,000 Rural Infrastructure Fund grant from the state, is slated to reach completion this year before a Nov. 30 opening date.
“We are thrilled to have Malouf locate in Laurens County,” Laurens County Council Chair Brown Patterson said in the news release. “They will be a great addition to our corporate community. Laurens County continues to create good jobs and capital investment in manufacturing and distribution operations, and we are excited about the opportunities that Malouf will provide for our citizens. We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with our newest addition, Malouf.”
The company warehouses and distributes home furnishing and other consumer products, while also providing technology, retail and logistics services throughout the United States. Ryan Egbert, the company’s national distribution director, said in the release the S.C. facility will offer more space under one roof than its existing North Carolina location as the company fields the market’s intensified demand for consumer goods — one positive impact of the pandemic economy.
“This space will simplify our supply chain process by allowing us to consolidate all of our specialty retail products in one place for East Coast fulfillment,” Egbert said in the release. “We are excited to be in Laurens and hope to impact the community in a positive way as we have done at our other locations.”
One of those impacts is heightened awareness of the need for community “livability” as counties and cities compete to attract and retain a healthy industrial workforce.
“Quality of life has quickly become a priority in the world of economic development and site selection over the past couple of years, and this will continue to strengthen Laurens County’s competitiveness,” Whitney Lagrange, Laurens County Development Corp. director of marketing, said in the release.
Following Laurens County Development Corp.’s application in April, the county was selected as a host of the American Planning Association’s Community Planning Assistant Team program in South Carolina.
The program is a community outreach initiative in which a multidisciplinary team of planning professionals from across the state conduct pro bono projects designed to assist communities with limited access to planning resources and expertise. Teams work with community leaders, elected officials, stakeholders and volunteers to address local issues or concerns, according to a news release.
The project will be carried out by a livability team, one of six volunteer groups of community members and leaders carrying out the development group’s countywide strategic plan implementation. The overall mission of the livability implementation team is developing priorities for increasing quality of life throughout Laurens County, raising awareness for these priorities, and placemaking investments and leading efforts to fund them, the release said.
The team will focus on developing a strategy for promoting the social, cultural, recreational and economic assets that the county has to offer, according to the release.
“The team is excited to be working in Laurens County this summer,” Jeff Parkey, chair of the Community Planning Assistance Team, said in the release. “By showcasing the county’s many assets and amenities and quality of life through this project, we believe new opportunities for development and growth that benefit the entire community can emerge. We look forward to learning more about Laurens County.”