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Spring 2014

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Clarendon

Ready workforce, natural beauty attract development to Clarendon County By Holly Fisher

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larendon County has landed on the South Carolina map as a great place to do business. Capitalizing on its natural resources, workforce training and proximity to interstate and port access, county leaders are seeing both population growth and new business development. Bob Edwards is the site manager for Meritor, a Manningbased plant that assembles brakes and slack adjustors for commercial trucks. The company opened its Manning plant 15 years ago and maintains low turnover among its 118 employees.

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About Clarendon County County Spotlight: CLARENDON

Population: 35,000 Average household income: $33,355 County seat: Manning Other key cities and towns: Turbeville, Paxville, Alcolu, Summerton Target industries: automotive, aerospace, building products, distribution, metal working Source: Clarendon County Development Board

Clarendon County Industrial Park has 230 developable acres with utilities available. The park has easy access to Interstate 95 and U.S. 301. (Photo/Clarendon County)

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“We don’t have a lot of people leaving us,” Edwards said. “Other plants have started up here, but we have been able to retain our workforce.” He uses Lake Marion along with the fact the area is less than two hours from both Charleston and Myrtle Beach as selling

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points for new hires. Any objections to the rural location can be offset by the fishing, hunting and natural beauty of Clarendon County. Dawn Griffith, executive director of the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce, said not only does the chamber promote

local business but tourism as well. “There’s just a wealth of historic homes and churches. Take a trip through Clarendon County and it’s like going back in time,” she said. Located just southeast of the center of South Carolina, Griffith said the county’s centralized location makes it appealing to visitors as well as those looking to relocate. “We are truly in the middle of it all if you want to go to Charleston, Columbia or the mountains in Greenville,” she said. Manning is the county seat and geographical center of Clarendon County; other


U.S. Supreme Court officially overturned racial segregation in U.S. public schools in 1954.

County Spotlight: CLARENDON

key cities and towns are Turbeville, Paxville, Alcolu and Summerton. The county population is almost 35,000, and the average household income is $33,355.

Available workforce County history The county is named for Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, and was first established in 1785. It was officially chartered as an independent county of South Carolina in 1855. Clarendon has produced five South Carolina governors and was the site of many of the Revolutionary War campaigns of Gen. Francis Marion, commonly known as “The Swamp Fox.” Among Clarendon County’s notable hometown residents are Althea Gibson, Wimbledon tennis champion, and Peggy Parish, noted children’s author and creator of the “Amelia Bedelia” series. The county also played a key role in the Civil Rights movement and bringing an end to school segregation as the source of the landmark desegregation case Briggs v. Elliott. Briggs was the first filed of the four cases combined into Brown v. Board of Education, the famous case in which the

In addition to its natural resources and convenient location, the Clarendon County Development Board promotes the county’s available workforce, training programs and Class “A” industrial sites. In 2009, the county conducted an analysis of its workforce availability and discovered the wider area has more than 61,000 underemployed workers, 37,000 unemployed residents who are actively job hunting, plus another 11,600 unemployed individuals considering re-entering the work force. That means employers have a potential workforce of almost 110,000 people. Building up a skilled workforce is a trend John Truluck noticed a dozen years ago when he took over as executive director of the Clarendon County Development Board. Existing industry leaders told him they had jobs, but just couldn’t find anyone qualified to fill them. A skills gap had developed in the county.

The Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce promotes local business and tourism.

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County Spotlight: CLARENDON Central Carolina Technical College provides training for business and industry. At right, Scott’s Branch High School is the first of two New Tech High Schools in the state. These schools use project-based learning and technology to prepare students for the workplace and higher education. (Photos/Clarendon County)

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The days of promising a perspective business an available workforce have passed and now businesses want to know training programs are in place to fill the jobs they can bring to an area. “We saw that trend developing so we tried to be ahead of the curve,” Truluck said. Interested businesses have access to readySC, a program of the S.C. Technical College System that provides training services to new and expanding businesses at

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no charge. The program determines knowledge, skills and abilities of a business’s workers and then provides necessary training so those workers are ready to go to work. Additional education and training are available at Central Carolina Technical College in nearby Sumter. The college has offered a two-year scholarship to Clarendon County high school students in the class of 2015 who maintain a “C” average and test ready for college work. And its Workforce

Development Division provides training and technical assistance to local business and industry. One of the county’s most significant achievements in the area of workforce training and development is that it was the first county in South Carolina to meet 100 percent of the National Certified Work Ready goals. Of the required four criteria, the county has met the National Career Readiness Certificate, Business Support and High School Graduation Rate goals. The county is working to earn the required National Career Readiness Certificate Plus that measures work discipline, teamwork, managerial potential and customer service orientation.


County Spotlight: CLARENDON

Manning is the county seat and geographical center of Clarendon County. The county was first established in 1785.

New business announcements Clarendon Memorial Hospital, at the center of the Clarendon Health System, has a new 47,000-square-foot addition with advanced operating rooms, emergency department, same day surgery department and spacious patient rooms. (Photos/Clarendon County)

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Griffith said becoming a National Certified Work Ready community has encouraged industries to look more seriously at Clarendon County, whereas previously, they may have looked beyond Clarendon to other parts of the state for a developed workforce. As evidence of the success of the county’s focus on economic development, longtime Clarendon County Council Chairman Dwight Stewart points to developments by Georgia Pacific Corp., which opened a $250 million oriented strand board mill last year and planned to hire 150 people, along with the soon-to-open Spirit Pharmaceuticals, with a $12.2 million investment and almost 300 new jobs. Also announcing plans for Clarendon County in 2013 were Swift Group of Industries, maker of replacement refrigerator filters, with 60 jobs and a $3.5 million investment, and Advanta Southeast, maker of reusable packaging, bringing 30 jobs and a $3.5 million investment. And while water and sewer infrastructure remain an area of improvement for the county, Stewart said work is being done on that front as evidenced by the county’s collaboration with neighboring Sumter, Lee and Williamsburg counties on a 1,400-acre mega industrial site in the northern part of the county right off Interstate 95.

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Clarendon County Special Section - 2014 SC Biz Spring