Editorial: Aiken County Sees Welcome Spike in Job Announcements

February 9, 2017

Aiken County seems to be batting a thousand so far in 2017 as it relates to job creation.

In recent days, there have been two major jobs announcements, while a third economic development project is close to completion.

It was announced Tuesday that Emerson, a manufacturer of ASCO fluid automation products, which operates on Columbia Highway, was expanding operations in Aiken County. The expansion will result in 86 new jobs and $8 million of capital investment, according to news releases from S.C. Governor’s Office and Department of Commerce.

On the heels of that announcement came the more good news that Carlstar Group LLC would be adding another 43 jobs as part of an expansion of its existing facility at 23 Windham Road. The expansion represents a $6.9 million investment.

Carlstar is a global manufacturer of specialty tires and wheels for agricultural, construction, and other markets. It employs 3,500 people worldwide in five countries.

These deals are in addition to the expansion of Autoneum North America, which is taking shape at the northwest corner of East Pine Log and Banks Mill roads. That expansion effort is generating 41 new jobs with investment totaling a whopping $35.5 million, with the construction of the 315,000-square-foot building.

Autoneum produces noise and heat protection technologies for automobiles. Construction of the Aiken building is slated to be complete by mid to late 2017, according to the Economic Development Partnership website.

Three projects, 170 jobs, and $50.4 million in economic impacts.

It’s hard to dismiss those kinds of results. Seeing job and business growth is a welcome refresh from the shedding of jobs that had become the norm nationwide during the Great Recession.

Often economic development deals receive a great deal of public scrutiny. There are instances, especially when substantial tax incentives are in play or there’s undue secrecy, where such scrutiny is warranted.

But in most cases, including the aforementioned Aiken expansions, meaningful economic development sneaks under the radar. We at the Aiken Standard have observed with admiration the surge in job announcements so far in 2017. With any luck, Aiken County will land more economic deals in the future.

The Savannah River Site just south of Aiken remains the primary employer in Aiken County, but additional job announcements are always desirable because they put more people to work and further diversify our economy.

And with more businesses expanding in Aiken County, it creates a favorable impression on other businesses interested in moving here or expanding. It demonstrates that Aiken is a desirable place to do business.

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