Dorchester County Industry Leader Named Economic Development Ambassador

Columbia, South Carolina

April 17, 2012 - Gov. Nikki Haley and the South Carolina Department of Commerce honored selected economic development leaders as South Carolina Ambassadors for Economic Development as part of Industry Appreciation Week. The awards ceremony recognized 51 individuals from all 46 counties who contributed to economic development in their local communities.

Representing Dorchester County, Showa Denko Carbon President and CEO Robert Whitten was among those named as an Ambassador for Economic Development. Whitten helped Dorchester County secure a major expansion at Showa Denko's Ridgeville facility. This announcement is one of the largest capital investments in Dorchester County history. Whitten worked tirelessly with state and local officials to make this expansion a reality. The project was highly competitive with other global locations being considered. Whitten championed Dorchester County as the right location for Showa Denko to invest. The project will also lead to the creation of 100 new jobs, and bring the total employment at Showa Denko’s Ridgeville facility to over 300 associates. Showa Denko produces large diameter graphite electrodes for the steel industry at the Ridgeville facility.

The awards ceremony was held on Tuesday, April 17, at 4 p.m. at the Statehouse. Industry Appreciation Week provides an opportunity to say "thank you" to companies in the state for their many contributions to our communities, as well as a chance to build awareness among the residents of South Carolina that existing business is a fundamental driver of both the local and state economy.

"We are bringing investments and new jobs every day. In South Carolina, we build things. We're building planes. We're building automobiles. We're building tires. We're bringing in companies we never imagined we'd bring. Recruiting companies is a team effort and our team efforts are only going to continue to get stronger," said Gov. Nikki Haley at the event.

In most communities across the state, small businesses continue to play an important role in job creation. Small businesses employ 750,147 South Carolinians, or about 49 percent of all people employed by private industry in the state. Small businesses also make up a large proportion of the manufacturers in the state. More than 3,200 manufacturers are considered small businesses, which represent more than 88 percent of all manufacturers in the state, and those firms employ 70,000 state residents.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell said in a statement, "Economic Development starts first and foremost on the ground level. Today, we recognized some outstanding Palmetto State business leaders as Ambassadors for Economic Development because of their hard work to advance the unified economic goals we share for South Carolina. The most valuable economic development resource our state has are those businesses that operate and succeed in the private sector every day."

More than 220,000 South Carolinians are employed in the manufacturing sector, more than 12 percent of the state’s employed workforce. Manufacturing accounts for more than $26 billion in goods and services produced in the Palmetto State, which is 16.4 percent of South Carolina’s gross domestic product.

"Thanks to the hard work of our economic development community, South Carolina enjoyed numerous investments from world-class companies. With help from business and economic development leaders, our economic development team recruited more than $5.12 billion in capital investments and 20,013 jobs to our state last year. It's the efforts of our business and industry that allow us to do that," said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt.

During the past year, South Carolina also continued to add to its list of marquee companies with expansions and investments from companies such as Bridgestone, Continental Tire, Michelin, Nephron Pharmaceuticals, TD Bank, ZF Group, and many more.

The Ambassador awards presentation is one of many events that will occur across the state as part of Industry Appreciation Week. Local communities will also host a variety of activities to recognize and thank business and industry leaders.

About Dorchester County Economic Development

Dorchester County Economic Development is the organization responsible for growing and retaining business in the County. Its mission is to work to create and support an environment that welcomes business, and helps companies to grow and succeed over the long-term. This ultimately will increase the standard of living for all of Dorchester County's citizens by providing more job opportunities with higher skills and better wages.

About S.C. Department of Commerce

As South Carolina's leading economic development agency, the Department of Commerce works to recruit new businesses and help existing businesses grow. Commerce received the Silver Award from Business Facilities magazine, placing second in the 2011 Economic Development Deal of the Year competition. Commerce has been part of recruiting world-class companies to South Carolina such as Boeing, Bridgestone, Continental, Monster.com, Heinz, ZF Group, BMW, and Google Inc. Commerce also supports small and existing business, rural development initiatives, and offers grants for community development. For more information, visit  www.SCcommerce.com.