The Clarendon County Industrial Park off Interstate 95 and U.S. 301 in Manning got a boost in early 2016.
Greenville company McCallum and Sweeney and the state Department of Commerce awarded the park with site certification, making it one of only a quarter of South Carolina parks to have such a distinction.
“What it means is that all of your Phase 1 work has been completed,” said Clarendon County Economic Development Board Executive Director George Kosinski. “For an industry, that means that you don’t have to worry about any environmental soil conditions that you’re otherwise unaware of. Companies are looking to build fast, and you won’t have the risk associated with the environment. We’ve taken care of that by being certified.”
Kosinski said the process takes between 12 and 18 months, but it was well worth it.
“This saves companies time and money, as the corporate risk has been mitigated,” he said. “As time goes on, there will be a higher demand for certified sites.”
Kosinski said this means that if a company is looking in Clarendon and in another nearby county in which the site is not certified, Clarendon stands a better chance in closing the deal.
“I’m right up the road and I have a certified site, so they have less risk by locating in Clarendon County than by locating in the neighboring county without the certified cite,” Kosinski said.
Kosinski said the Industrial Park began operations in the early 1980s. Starflo – W.M. Powell Valves was the first company to set up in the park, doing so in 1982.
Since then, numerous industries have occupied the sprawling park. Currently 900 employees work for companies like ACS Cleaning Products Group, Trimaco, Meritor, Suri Industries and Freeman Millworks, with Advanta and Select Labs operating on frontage roads.
“The Clarendon County Industrial Park has roughly 200 acres that’s developable,” Kosinski said. “We just put our seventh speculative building that the county has built in there.”
Kosinski said speculative buildings also help “speed up the process for a company that’s looking for a quicker launch.”
“It’s there and ready for you to open your business,” he said.
He said that having certification and spec buildings are a way to make the Industrial Park and Clarendon County “stand out.”
“The reason you do these things is because you want to stand out from your competition,” he said. “All of the 50-plus economic developers in South Carolina and nearby states all have these fields they call industrial parks. It’s your piece of dirt or a cornfield, and you develop it over time. Obtaining site certification is a way to set ours apart from the rest.”
It sends a message to industries.
“That message is that we’re ready,” he said. “We have everything you need to get your business off the ground and started in a more speedy time frame than anyone else.”
McCallum and Sweeney, Kosinski said, perform such site certifications “all over the southeastern United States.”
“They work all over Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama,” he said. “And some of the sites they have certified have landed pretty big users.”
One of the Clarendon County Industrial Park’s strengths, according to the Greenville company, was that the site has one owner – the Clarendon County Business Development Corporation. As executive director of the Clarendon County Economic Development Board, Kosinski is also in charge of the BDC.
“Since the BDC owns the property, you have the one owner,” he said. “You don’t have to deal with multiple landowners or tracking down who owns what parcel of land.”
The park is also outside of the 100-year and 500-year flood plains, Kosinski said.
“That doesn’t seem like a really big deal to those in the central part of the state, but considering what we had happen in October 2015, now it’s something that will be on industry executives’ minds,” Kosinski said.
Much of eastern and central South Carolina experienced more than 20 inches of rain – with more than two feet in some places like Clarendon County. However, the Clarendon County Industrial Park “drained beautifully,” Kosinski said.
“It started raining that Friday, and on Sunday, I drove through there, and it was like it wasn’t raining at all,” Kosinski said. “It was still raining, but none had collected in the park.”
Kosinski said the park also has “all the infrastructure companies need already in place.”
“That includes natural gas, water, electric, wastewater and telecommunications,” he said. “So, we can produce the capabilities they require right off the bat.”
He said a company might say, “It takes 12-18 months to build my plant, can you get these services to my plant in 12-18 months?”
“In a rural setting like Clarendon, it could take actually that long or longer to get those services there,” he said. “But in Clarendon County we can do so much more quickly because those services are already out there.”
He said the park is also already zoned for industrial use.
“So that’s not an issue, which some companies face when trying to locate in an area,” he said.
And the site is right off I-95.
“That’s great, from a visibility standpoint,” he said. “Some companies don’t necessarily care about the visibility, but being that close to the Interstate, it’s convenient. And companies definitely care about getting trucks in and out for access to marker. Getting those trucks in and out is easy with I-95 right there.”