DILLON COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster joined community leaders for the Harbor Freight Tools one-million-square-foot expansion groundbreaking ceremony of its East Coast distribution facility Wednesday morning..
With this being Harbor Freight Tools' third expansion, the ceremony was more than just a groundbreaking; it was a celebration of the company's long-standing investment and commitment to Dillon County.
When Harbor Freight Tools first came to Dillon County in 2001, the facility was only a half a million square feet. After the expansion is done, the facility will be three million square feet.
"Once we put down our roots, it was a great location to support our East Coast stores," Andrew Mutchnik, Harbor Freight Tools' chief administrative officer, said. "Today we have 830 stores. We support about half of them out of this distribution center and Dillon has been a great partner to us as we've grown, great employees, great people, great support, great community."
Over the past 16 years, the company has invested $200 million in Dillon County. The current facility services more than 450 stores in 30 states across America, making the Dillon distribution center a critical part of the company's national operations.
McMaster said companies investing in S.C. means growth in the economy and the community.
"We have homegrown companies and companies coming from elsewhere, and when you have this kind of quality economic growth, it makes quality of life better for everybody," McMaster said.
The Harbor Freight Tools groundbreaking ceremony is the sixth one in 2017 for Dillon County. This year, the county raked in millions of dollars in company investments, creating over 1,000 jobs in the community.
Tonny McNeil, Dillon County's director of economic development, said it's simply the community that brings businesses to the Dillon area.
"Businesses are coming to Dillon County, No. 1, because we believe in what we're selling is the community," McNeil said. "We have the physical assets, we have the people and we have the drive to get it done.".
Besides the community, McNeil said some of the county's most effective tools when it comes to attracting industries are spec buildings, which allow companies to physically see their business in the area.
That was one of the ways Dillon County was able to land Wyman Gordon, an aerospace manufacturing company in 2014.
McNeil said it's also about a healthy relationship.
"We try to take the time to go out and research each industry that we go after so it's not just two strangers meeting. It feels more like family," McNeil said.
The expansion will create over 500 new jobs and is expected to be completed in 2019.