County Industry Leaders Give Insight into ‘Boom Market’

County industry leaders get insight into region’s “boom market”

  • Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Jenna-Ley Harrison/Journal Scene The three speakers for Tuesday’s Industry Appreciation Luncheon at Bethany United Methodist Church. Left to right: Nelson Lindsay, director of global business development for the S.C. Department of Commerce; David Ginn, president/CEO of2016

Dorchester County is on the verge of new industry and educational opportunities that Economic Development Director John Truluck celebrated with a crowd of local business leaders Tuesday at the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Industry Appreciation Luncheon.

The Dorchester County Career and Technology Center is opening a Summerville campus on Trolley Road, and Truluck talked of Trident Technical College’s plans to build a future $79 million aeronautical center in North Charleston. Dorchester District Two is also operating an advanced manufacturing education program at Summerville High School and STEM programs are on the rise in county middle schools, Truluck said.

He told the business community that the state is “overproducing four-year graduates and underproducing two-year graduates” for an area job market that now has a higher investment and focus on jobs requiring a two-year degree. So-called “high impact clusters” center on the following industries: automotive, aerospace, information technology, life sciences and advanced logistics.

In Dorchester County alone, county officials said the average manufacturing salary is about $63,000, while a working resident’s average overall salary is nearly half that figure — $34,000.

Over the last year, the county has added at least five new industries — including BAE Systems, Alkane Trucks and DC Machine — that have together produced $23.5 million and more than 900 jobs, Truluck said.

To continue growing office space, the county also has plans to add a new 100,000-square-foot speculative building at Winding Wood Commerce Park in St. George. Groundbreaking is expected to occur no later than early 2017.

“It’s somewhat weather dependent,” Truluck said. While county officals revealed that they hope to start the project by the holidays, it will definitely commence by the first of the year.

“We’ve been working on this a great (while),” Truluck said.

He said one of the county’s “biggest challenges” has been a “lack of product.”

“We’ve sold out of all the buildings that we have,” Truluck said.

The county’s new speculative building will be among at least 26 across the state, according to Nelson Lindsay, director of global business development for the S.C. Department of Commerce. Lindsay said Spartanburg houses the state’s largest speculative building at 362,000-square feet, but no specific building size is superior.

“You need a diversity of product,” Lindsay said. “No size fits all.”

While growth brings heavier traffic patterns and the need for more schools, housing and overall space, county leaders are learning growth isn’t always negative and is necessary for the area to compete with neighboring counties and the state.

Truluck encouraged county residents to proactively promote their residence to those outside the county, state and region.

“When you go out…think of yourself as an ambassador,” he said. “You can proudly be an ambassador for this market, not just as a great place to visit but (also) as a great place for business.”

The tri-county is expected to offer 26,000 new jobs over the next five years, though David Ginn, president/CEO of Charleston Regional Development Alliance, said that number is “conservative.” There’s a high possibility the job market could grow much more.

“It could be 45,000,” Ginn said. “We are in a boom market.”