If the consumer goods we use in our homes, the biopharmaceuticals we rely on to enhance health, and the planes, autos and boats we travel in all had a label, there’s a good chance it would say “Made in South Carolina.”
South Carolina’s thriving advanced manufacturing sector makes up 11 percent of total employment in the state and created 7,000 jobs in 2017. There were also 41 business expansions announced in 2016 alone.
That number continues to grow, thanks to investments by companies like Trane. The company, a leading global provider of indoor comfort systems and services and a brand of Ingersoll Rand, is expanding its existing Richland County operations. The company is investing $96 million to increase its overall flexibility in line with business growth.
“We are pleased to extend our commitment to Columbia with a sizeable expansion of our HVAC plant. Over the next three years, we will create approximately 700 jobs in Columbia,” says Dave Regnery, president of Trane’s Commercial HVAC operations in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Creating New Jobs
Trane has about 600 employees in the state, and offers a broad range of energy-efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, as well as advanced building controls and parts support.
Trane’s existing Richland County facility makes components and units for HVAC equipment. The expansion will grow the facility by 680,000 square feet.
Expansions and job growth are taking place across all manufacturing sectors. Ruiz Food Products is expanding its existing Florence County operations. The $79 million investment is expected to create 705 new jobs over several years. One of the company’s products, El Monterey, is the top-selling brand of frozen Mexican food in the United States.
“The growing demand for our products requires we increase capacity as we continue to service our existing and continually growing East Coast customer base. This seven-year expansion plan will allow us to do just that,” says Ruiz Food Products president and CEO Rachel P. Cullen.
South Carolina’s central East Coast location and infrastructure of highways, airports, rail and ocean port are an important advantage for manufacturers. That advantage is becoming even more significant with the deepening of Charleston Harbor.
“By the end of the decade, we will achieve 52 feet of depth and be the deepest harbor on the East Coast, a depth advantage that will add significant capability in the Southeast, the fastest-growing port region in the country,” says Jim Newsome, South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) president and CEO.
Accommodating Panamax Ships
By achieving 52 feet of depth, SCPA will be able to accommodate fully loaded Panamax container ships without tidal restriction. That includes the largest ship on the East Coast, the COSCO Development. The 1,200-foot vessel can transport up to 13,092 20-foot shipping container equivalent units (TEUs).
One in 11 jobs is tied to the Port’s $53 billion annual economic impact, says Ted Pitts, president and CEO of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.
SCPA owns and operates seaport facilities in Charleston, Georgetown and Greer. In 2015 SCPA handled international commerce valued at more than $74 billion. Port operations facilitate 187,200 statewide jobs.
Internationally recognized companies like Honda, BMW, General Electric and Boeing have operations in South Carolina, making the state a hub for global business. Aerospace is particularly strong, having a $19 billion economic impact and employing more than 100,000 people.
Boeing assembles its Dreamliner 787 in Charleston. Others in the industry include Lockheed Martin, GKN, GE Aviation, Champion Aerospace and Tighitco.
Smaller companies also have a big economic impact on their communities and the state. Nutramax Laboratories’ financial and philanthropic contributions have earned it a top award from the South Carolina Department of Commerce. The company was recognized for its capital investment, job creation and community engagement in Lancaster County and commitment to the environment.
The family-owned company employs more than 400 workers nationwide, including 311 in South Carolina. Since 2010, Nutramax has invested more than $42.5 million in the state. The business researches, develops and manufactures health products for people and their pets.
“We were honored for the award and especially honored to represent Lancaster County. We are very happy, and feel it is a reflection of how hard our employees work,” says Kristen Blanchard, Nutramax vice president of external corporate affairs.