FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - GE Healthcare is taking its medical equipment manufacturing to the next level by bringing more jobs to Florence.
A groundbreaking ceremony at the GE Healthcare Florence facility was held Tuesday to announce the expansion.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster was there to celebrate the new expansion with other Florence city and county officials.
"This is another example of the progress our state is making," McMaster said.
GE Healthcare Florence is expanding its footprint, specifically with life-saving equipment and technology, and will be the only GE facility in all of South Carolina to have the advanced MRI magnet cardiac capability.
GE Healthcare Florence plant and operations manager Dale Wolf said the company wants to be the top leader in the health care field.
With the expansion, there will be 100 more jobs on top of the 350 current employees, according to Wolf.
"We'll be adding new jobs and new skills. We'll do a lot more material handling, add more assembly work throughout the factory and expand what we can do on an engineering capability, so we'll add engineers as well as production associates and technicians," Wolf said.
The $40 million announcement is building on the current 500,000-square-foot facility built in 1974 by adding around 130,000 square feet of additional warehouse space.
"I used to hear people say South Carolina is a small, poor state and we just can't do anything," McMaster said. "Well, I am trying to eliminate that thought, because it's not true."
McMaster explained how Florence is an example of when good people and jobs create more economic growth.
"The downtown is beautiful, getting better and stronger and this expansion is just one more example. It's happening and we are here," he said. "What we have to do is stay ahead of the competition. That means Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, all those other states, and so far we are doing it and getting better at it."
The groundbreaking included McLeod Health, which also plays an important role in GE Healthcare Florence.
"McLeod's strategic partnership with GE, MRI capability can bring our health care delivery infrastructure to the pinnacle in our state," said Dr. Shawn Conwell, McLeod MRI clinical chairman spoke. "McLeod, radiologists and GE are constantly seeking to improve patient care."
The new space will allow more manufacturing under one roof for cardiac research globally, while new imaging technology and engineering is creating the additional jobs.
Construction will begin on Radio Drive this summer. GE Healthcare officials expect the new building to open in the middle of 2018.