DARLINGTON COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A $30 million investment is coming to Darlington County, bringing with it a possible 135 new jobs in an economic boom the county has not seen in years.
"Darlington County is one of those rural counties that does not get a great deal of attention and some of that has been a bit of not being prepared and not being ready as we were five years ago, but we are now" said Frank Willis, director of Darlington County Economic Development.
The project is code named Project Phoenix right now for confidentiality purposes. The manufacturing company is coming to Darlington County from outside South Carolina.
Willis said Darlington County could not recruit major industry five years ago because there was no land for businesses to purchase. One year ago, economic development started to seriously recruit and use the two industrial parks to showcase.
"We can walk the industrial park, you can say, 'Well, I want to build a business here,' you can look at it, you can see it, you can feel it, you can kick the dirt and see if it suits you or not, or if it works for you or not," Willis said.
The first one where Project Phoenix is expected to build on is very close to Interstate 20 and S.C. 340.
"It starts with getting that land, then you put in the infrastructure you have to have - the roads, the water, the sewer and all of that stuff, and just having land is not enough," Willis said
The 163-acre property is visible from Interstate 20, which Willis said is vital. The county has owned the land for the past 10 years but has not done any sort of developing toward it.
The second industrial park is 140 acres total along Palmetto Road and S.C. 52. Willis said this park is set apart because it has railroad access.
Willis believes with the two industrial parks, Darlington County is able to recruit from all over the world.
"I've been here five years and I didn't spend any money on advertising the first four years. I didn't have anything to advertise," Wills said.
In order to recruit the appropriate workforce five years later, Willis said the industry needs to see that it is already present in Darlington County.
"We don't have a lot of nuclear engineers or a lot of high tech college-level research facilities, so we are not recruiting those kind of companies because our work force does not suit them," Willis said.
The main goal is to recruit based on what Darlington County has to offer. The Project Phoenix announcement is a progressive step forward.
"I think you're going to see Darlington be much more of a player in economic development in the next few years," Willis said.
Project Phoenix will be voted on and is expected to be approved at the next county council meeting on Aug. 7.