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Laurens County, SC, Offers Small-Town Life With Great Connections

Laurens County, SC, an Upstate community on the edge of the Blue Ridge, offers rural, small-town life in a well-connected setting.

By Livability on March 30, 2023

fiber internet

Laurens County is about 700 square miles of livability in the heart of South Carolina’s Piedmont region, known statewide as the Upstate. Laurens County is home to about 67,000 people with the county seat Laurens (population 9,000) and Clinton (population 8,500) as its only incorporated cities.

The county itself dates to 1785 and its rich history includes Revolutionary War battles, the rise and fall of the textile industry, and now a robust local economy that includes automotive parts manufacturers, major retail distribution operations, and a still-thriving agriculture sector.

Laurens County offers affordable real estate that helps make the cost of living lower here than the national average, as well as numerous parks and other outdoor recreation, shopping at both downtown shops and big box retailers, and robust educational and healthcare opportunities and services.

The county is served by Piedmont Rural Telephone Cooperative (PRTC) and its Piedmont Rural Fiber subsidiary, which brings high-speed fiber internet service to the region. They continue the tradition of keeping up with advancements in communications technology that has marked PRTC’s commitment to its member-owners and the community since the voice and data cooperative was formed in 1951. 

Laurens County is ideally located for rural and small-town living 

Laurens County is an ideal location for rural and small-town living with easy accessibility to metro areas. The county is served by multiple state and U.S. highways and by Interstate 385, which connects Interstates 26 and 85, while Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport is a 30- to 45-minute drive from most of the county. 

Going north from the Piedmont into the Blue Ridge, Laurens itself is only about 30 miles from Greenville, the largest city in the Upstate and home to a nationally known restaurant, shopping, and entertainment scene. Spartanburg is some 40 miles away and about an hour beyond that is the mountain mecca of Ashevillle, North Carolina. Columbia, the state capital, is only about 80 miles to the south, while Charlotte, North Carolina, is about 90 miles to the northeast. 

The climate here is classified as “humid subtropical” with warm summers, mild winters and average highs of around 90 degrees in July and average lows of around 32 degrees in January. Rainfall is typically ample, and each season has its own scenic charms that add to the allure of living among the rolling hills, fields, and woodlands.

Manufacturing emerges while agriculture keeps producing 

Laurens County is home to several major manufacturers and employers, fueled in no small part by the economic boom set off three decades ago by the wildly successful BMW assembly plant about 45 miles to the north in Greer.

Major manufacturers locally now include ZF Transmissions, a global leader in driveline and chassis technology that employs more than 1,500 people here. Yanfeng Automotive Interiors also employs more than 1,000 workers at its Laurens County facility. 

Walmart, meanwhile, has a major regional distribution center here that has more than 1,000 workers as well, and other big-name employers include Owens Corning and Shaw Industries. There are also many smaller businesses and manufacturers in Laurens County that contribute to the diverse local economy.

Agriculture also remains an important industry in Laurens County, with a significant portion of the county’s land dedicated to poultry, beef, and dairy cattle operations, and production of soybeans, corn, and wheat. Along with strictly commercial operations, there are several local farms in Laurens County that offer fresh produce, grass-fed beef and pasture-raised pork, and other specialty products to residents and visitors.

High-speed internet is equally vital to agriculture and manufacturing industries today and Piedmont Fiber stands ready to grow its capabilities to meet the growing needs of both these critical economic sectors here.

Ample health care services and educational opportunities

Along with easy access to the major medical centers in Greenville and Columbia, Laurens County offers Prisma Health Laurens County Hospital in Clinton, Laurens County Memorial Hospital in the Joanna community, and the wide-ranging services of the Laurens County Health Care System.

The cities of Laurens and Clinton are each served by their own public school districts and there’s a third district that serves the county’s rural areas. Locally, higher education is served by the 400-student Laurens campus of Piedmont Technical College and by Presbyterian College, a highly respected four-year liberal arts institution with its own pharmacy school and a student body of about 1,200 students in Clinton.

Also within an hour’s drive are Clemson University, Furman University in Greenville, and the University of South Carolina-Upstate and Wofford College in Spartanburg.

Festivals, history, cultural activities and outdoor recreation

Laurens County is home to community and state parks and other outdoor recreation areas, including Lake Greenwood, an 11,000-acre destination for fishing, boating, and swimming. Local highlights also include the facilities operated by the Laurens County Parks and Recreation Department throughout the county, including the Laurens County Sports Complex and the Clinton Park and Recreation Complex.

There also are a wide variety of museums, festivals, and cultural events that help enrich the livability of Laurens County. They include Musgrove Mill Historic Site, which preserves the memory of a Revolutionary War battle, the Laurens County Museum and its exhibits on the history of the area, and the Walnut Grove Plantation, which features an 18th-century farmhouse that offers tours and educational programs. The Clinton Museum in downtown Clinton also showcases that community’s history and culture.

Fun annual events, meanwhile, include the Squealin’ on the Square BBQ Festival in Laurens (featuring a nationally sanctioned barbecue competition) and the Musgrove Mill Scottish Games and Festival in Clinton. The Laurens County Community Theatre, located in downtown Laurens, adds its lineup of plays and concerts year-round. 

Piedmont Rural Fiber expands fiber connectivity

By modernizing its network with fiber-optic technology, PRTC continues its commitment to serving customers and the community with the latest communication technologies and unmatched customer service that can come only from local people serving and supporting their own friends, families, and communities.

Piedmont Rural Fiber offers high-speed internet service tiers ranging from download/upload speeds of 200/100 Mbps to 1G/500Mbps, with dedicated local service and 24/7 tech support to ensure uninterrupted access for homes and businesses across Laurens County. 

Such access to online learning, news, information, music, movies, gaming and social media is essential to closing the digital divide, and PRTC goes a step further offering its Lifeline payment plan for qualifying households as well as participation in the National FCC Affordability Connectivity Program.

It’s just one more way that Laurens County continues to epitomize the kind of community with a rich past and promising future that makes it a great place to live, work, and play now and going forward.

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