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Vive la Walhalla

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Vive la Walhalla
By Richard K. Blackwell

How would one say “Walhalla” in French? I am not sure, but it is being said in Tours, France. You read that correctly as a French company has established operations in downtown Walhalla — Right here in Oconee County.

This is not by accident.

For the past few years, the Oconee Economic Alliance and its many local partners have been rethinking and reshaping how we do business here. Instead of wishing for change, we have made the changes ourselves. We took our future in our own hands. We have been looking for new ways to grow. We are succeeding.

Vermon NDT is a producer of ultrasonic equipment for nondestructive testing and is locating in a 3,000-square-foot production operation within the Oconee Business Center. The announcement that’s Vermon NDT is coming to downtown Walhalla means more than new jobs. It is more than investment in our community. It is a major step toward our future economy.

Here’s why:

  • This is the first “soft landing pad” win for a rural market in South Carolina. This proves this new economic development tactic that the SC Department Commerce is pushing is not only a tool for economic development for large metros, but smaller communities as well. Kudos to Dave Eldridge on our team for leading the effort. He is chairman of the Tri-County Entrepreneurial Development Corporation, which is part of the Oconee Economic Alliance. It is focused on supporting small business formation and getting entrepreneurial growth on the right path.
  • This is the second French company, behind Schneider Electric, to establish in Oconee. That foreign investment is a key piece of the economic development puzzle.
  • Vermon NDT’s announcement brings the number of businesses housed in our in the Oconee Business Center to a total of ten occupants. That is growth and new ideas being generated right here. That creates ripple effects on the local economy.
  • It underscores why Oconee is becoming the model for big-time economic development in small markets. We are showing that business can thrive in small towns and rural communities.

We thank Vermon NDT for their decision to locate here. We look forward to watching them blossom from their humble roots off Main Street in Walhalla and it will take all of us to see that the support is there to aid them on their journey for many years to come. It is exciting to see the business base grow and change, decisions like Vermon’s continue to prove that we are the “geography of opportunity” in South Carolina.

Richard K. Blackwell is the executive director of Oconee Economic Alliance, which is a public-private nonprofit effort to accelerate job creation and capital investment, increase per capita income, diversify the local tax base and generate awareness of Oconee County as a business location. To learn more visit www.InvestOconeeSC.com.

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