WINNSBORO — Project Palmetto was revealed Wednesday afternoon when Element Electronics formally announced that its television manufacturing will move from a facility in China into the old Perry Ellis building in Fairfield County.
As many as 250 people will be phased in over time and the $7.5 million investment is expected to create 500 new jobs within five years.
“These are assembly jobs that average $12.50 an hour,” said Tiffany Harrison, director of Fairfield County Economic Development. “Element Electronics assured that they will try to hire local people and plan to hire as many people locally as they can.”
Around 250 people will be hired within the first year. The workers will be hired in shifts of 25. The county is partnering with ReadySC for training opportunities and with SC Works to make sure the job description and applications are posted.
The company will begin hiring for the new positions in the fourth quarter of this year. Anyone interested in job opportunities with the company should visit www.sctechjobs.com at that time.
Dwayne Perry, a graduate of the Darla Moore School of Business, said he was excited Element Electronics chose to make its products in the United States and in Winnsboro. Perry, vice chairman of the Fairfield County Council, spoke on behalf of county council since Chairman David Ferguson was attending a summit in Orlando.
“This is exciting for our county, state and nation. It changes the paradigm to high end electronics being made here in the U.S. and in Winnsboro. Local merchants will benefit,” Perry said. “Five hundred jobs means 500 more people shopping here. That spinoff (effect) is so important and significant. This will have a positive impact on the county and provide opportunities for its citizens.”
Perry commended the Governor’s Office for being so involved and thanked Gov. Nikki Haley for her efforts. He also thanked SCE&G and Fairfield Electric Cooperative for their efforts to help fund renovations to the old Perry Ellis building.
“This is a very exciting day for the citizens of Fairfield County,” Ferguson said. “Today’s announcement by Element Electronics to create 500 new jobs in a plant that has been vacant for several years will have a significant and positive impact on the region. Fairfield County is a cost-effective location with a proud manufacturing heritage.”
Haley joined the meeting by teleconference from Orlando, Fla., where she was attending a Wal-mart manufacturing summit with 1,500 people from around the United States meeting to discuss ways to bring jobs back into the country.
Haley said networking and business promotion at a supplier summit last spring was key to inking the deal with Element.
“Companies are moving back to the United States because it makes good business sense now because the cost of doing business abroad is increasing but the quality is not (necessarily),” Haley said.
She said the quality of business in South Carolina is good and that the price of doing business here is going down. She noted the state has a good, clean business environment and mentioned how under her leadership government agencies are in the customer service business.
Haley envisions the state as a new manufacturing hub and was excited by the prospects of doing business as a Wal-mart supplier.
“South Carolina has transitioned into an advanced manufacturing state, and today’s decision by Element Electronics to build their flat-screen televisions here is another sign of that change. Whether it’s cars, planes or consumer electronics, people in the Palmetto State know how to make things, and make them well,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt.
Harrison said she was ecstatic to welcome Element Electronics to the county and anticipated a “fruitful partnership to benefit the county for years to come.”
The new flat-screen television production facility encompasses 315,000 square feet located at 392 U.S. 321 Bypass North in Winnsboro. The building needed general cosmetic up-fitting only. That is one reason the company came to Fairfield since the building could be used so quickly.
Element will bring in its own equipment into the county. Harrison said details about incentives offered to the company will be announced later. She declined to say if the building was purchased by Element Electronics or if it was being leased.
Element and the county worked quickly to make this deal due to the Wal-mart influence.
“The partnership between South Carolina and Element Electronics came together in just a few short months demonstrating that American renewal in manufacturing is working to create jobs, drive investment and produce quality American made products for our customers,” said Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. “Through collaboration with Element Electronics we have facilitated discussions at the state level to make their partnership a reality.”
“Wal-mart entered the business deal and sped up a three-year plan into a more aggressive nine month plan,” said Vlad Kazhdan with Element Electronics.
In fact, Element was well down the economic development path with another state when South Carolina contacted them but he said South Carolina did in two weeks the work that other states took six months to do. The governor gave them her personal cell phone number in case they had any questions or she could help further.
“Today’s announcement represents a big step for our company, and we are excited to locate our new operations in Fairfield County. South Carolina provides an excellent business environment for our television manufacturing operations, and we look forward to doing great things here. We appreciate all the support we’ve received from state and local officials,” said Mike O’Shaughnessy, president of Element Electronics.
Mike Briggs, president of the Central South Carolina Alliance said “countries from all over the world want to bring business here for the first time. These are macroeconomic forces at work and the Made in the U.S.A. brand is as hot as ever in global markets.”
Briggs thanked Fairfield County Council for its leadership and noted that for every one manufacturing job created the department of commerce estimates four more jobs will be created to support that job.
“Just think, 500 families can be back at work before Christmas. This has been a team effort and everyone has worked together to make this happen,” said Councilwoman Mary Lynn Kinely.
Councilman Kamau Marcharia concurred, saying, “This is a tremendous opportunity and blessing for the county and will help create situations for people where they have reliable jobs and improved quality of life. I hope people who had been rejected for jobs in the past will have faith, step up and apply for these new opportunities.”
For more information about the company, visit www.elementelectronics.com.