On Target for Oconee
Your Oconee Economic Alliance has directly increased economic development opportunities in Oconee County in the past thirty-six months as evidenced with $150 million in newly announced capital investments and over 800 new jobs coming on-line.
How have we done this? How have we added jobs and put more money into the local economy? By focusing on five key industries: Bioscience, Energy, Advanced Manufacturing, Automotive and Distribution.
These industries were chosen because they are fast growing as well as Oconee County has the infrastructure already to make them work for our residents.
The automotive sector is a huge part of South Carolina’s overall economy, and Oconee County is no exception. The top automotive employers include companies like: BorgWarner, Parkway Products, and U.S. Engine Valve. These companies alone employ over 1200 jobs in our community.
Automotive manufacturing is extremely promising in Oconee County for several reasons beyond our location. There is great potential for economic growth with the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) and engineering programs at Tri-County Technical College (TCTC), which are created to teach all aspects of engineering and design for automotive components. Along with the Tri-County Tech programs, the organization ReadySC is another advantage for the automotive industry, providing free, individualized pre-employment training at state technical colleges.
Oconee County has an advantage in the Bioscience industry over other counties simply because of our location and current industrial base. Our close proximity to Clemson University allows us to stay in touch with the school’s cutting edge research and innovation. As the demand for medical services continues to increase, employers such as Ulbrich as well as Oconee Memorial Hospital will only continue to grow.
Along with a strong presence of medical related firms, advanced manufacturing is also a target industry in Oconee County.
Oconee County’s convenience to Interstate 85 and the South Carolina Inland Port and our partnerships with our education partners enable businesses in this field to thrive.
Some even refer to advanced manufacturing as the backbone of the Oconee County economy. Employers like BASF, Greenfield Industries, Lift Technologies, Ideal Steel, and Sandvik are examples of how this industry can flourish in our area.
Another top industry is within the energy field. Oconee County’s energy sector is a powerful force because of strong relationships with groups such as Duke Energy, Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative and energy related manufacturers like Itron and Schneider Electric.
The final target industry of the Oconee Economic Alliance is the distribution sector. Oconee County has ample accommodations to increase development with businesses in the logistics industry. Being located directly between Atlanta and Charlotte gives us a great advantage for a larger customer base in the Southeast. Furthermore, Oconee County has an extensive transportation infrastructure, a convenient location, favorable labor costs, and a number of additional advantages unique to the area.
There is plenty of work ahead of us but with continued support for the Oconee Economic Alliance, we will continue to increase job opportunities for our residents, grow business and continue to strengthen the economy of Oconee County.
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.