Partnership brings new attention to Florence Co. industrial park

Florence, SC - FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - A joint partnership is expected to bring extra promotion and attention to Florence County's newest industrial hub, located along Interstate 95.

The PACE Group, the developer of Grist Mill Industrial Park, announced the partnership with the Florence County Economic Development Partnership on Tuesday to help promote the 1,500-acre certified site. The Grist Mill Industrial Park is one of the largest tracts in the Northeastern Strategic Alliance region.

The land for the park is near the Honda car facility, off Interstate 95 at Exit 153. The 1,500 acre plot has been certified as an industrial park by the state of South Carolina. That means engineers have examined the site and verified that utilities, transportation and other infrastructure are in place for immediate development.

The site, according to officials, is suited for manufacturing and assembly companies, but accommodates other types of industries.

"We are excited to work with Florence County on this project and to provide a site that is ideal for businesses of all sizes," said Van Watts, president of the PACE Group.

Watts says lots will be subdivided into individual parcels based on the needs of each company.

County Council Chairman K.G. "Rusty" Smith said the partnership to make another industrial site available is a sign that the county is working to continuously recruit business.

"If you don't have something ready, they're going to go somewhere else," Smith said. "The incentives, the infrastructure, everything else are meaningless unless you're ready to roll, and we're trying to be ready to roll and have everything in place."

Smith said the land is large enough to attract a large manufacturing or assembly plant, but the land could also be used by several smaller businesses. The goal, he said, is to continue Florence County's recent success in attracting large Fortune 500 companies, such as Heinz and JCI.

"This will provide opportunities for a big [business], doesn't necessarily mean we will. We're looking for anything that's a valuable asset to community to provide jobs," Smith said. "Hopefully, we can land a big major Fortune 500, another Fortune 500."

The number of jobs created by the industrial park will depend on what business or group of businesses decides to build in the park. However, Smith said having another industrial site available should send a positive message to those who live in the area.

He said it's just a matter of time before the park results in jobs. He also said the park sends a message to business and industry.

"I think we will become and we are becoming, fast becoming, the Mecca of the business community for not only the Pee Dee and South Carolina, but I think the whole southeastern region," Smith explained. "People are finding out that Florence means business, and that's what we're all about.

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