NEWBERRY — Business in the Newberry community is on the increase if the number of new businesses that have decided to call the “City of Friendly Folks” home in the past couple of years is any indicator.
These include multiple Figaro locations, Lancero Lounge, The Palms Meat & Seafood Market, Anytime Fitness, Badcock Furniture, Gina Marie’s Café, Tokyo Grill, Groucho’s Deli, Taco Bell (coming soon), Pelican Sno-Balls and Mighty Dollar — to name but a few.
“What I think this shows is that economic times are starting to pick up and businesses are starting to reinvest in the City of Newberry,” said soon-to-be city manager Matt DeWitt. “I think Newberry is on an upswing from a retail perspective and that as these businesses do well — new and established alike — it will make way for other various business opportunities to consider Newberry as a possible location.”
But what is the city actually doing to bring in these new businesses?
For one, the city partnered this year with Retail Strategies, a sort of recruiter that pairs businesses with municipalities based on demographics and other factors.
DeWitt said Retail Strategies recently produced a “leakage report,” which the city has shared with the county’s chamber of commerce which can in turn inform local business owners of missed retail opportunities within their various business sectors.
“We hope that current business will take advantage of this study to help further strengthen established businesses moving forward,” DeWitt said.
The city acknowledges the prospect of starting out in business can be daunting and so to address this they created a “road map” to assist business owners on their trek.
It can be found by visiting www.cityofnewberry.com and navigating to the “business development” link and selecting “W.E.B. Guide.”
A Small Business Association office is located on the campus of Newberry College which is able to assist owners with crucial tasks including planning, bookkeeping and marketing.
“We are always looking to make the business start-up process a better experience so I would say all in all we are a pretty business friendly city,” DeWitt said.
And then, of course, there are the numerous festivals and events the city hosts each year to showcase what Newberry has to offer.
“Many of our downtown merchants’ biggest revenue days come on Oktoberfest, Irish Fling and Downtown Lights during Christmas — all city sponsored events,” DeWitt said.
He said residents can do their part to assist with business recruitment/retention through shopping local.
An intangible asset the Newberry community has in spades for attracting new business/industry is a “can do” attitude, according to Chris Pritchard, Doncasters’ divisional managing director of turbocharger components.
Hailing from the UK, Pritchard came to the states in 1996 to oversee the project management and build of Trucast.
He and his team looked at quite a few sites in several different states and considered multiple buildings within South Carolina.
Newberry was ultimately decided upon based on the “attitude of the people,” Pritchard said, citing positive experiences with the SC Business Alliance and Ed Lominack.
“Look, we might be able to get up and running three or four months earlier (if an already developed site is chosen) but we really want to go to Newberry and we really want to build this as a new building and make it a flagship site,” Pritchard told management.
Trucast US did in fact become the flagship plant of Doncasters turbochargers and Pritchard said the local workforce has been “excellent.”
Additionally Newberry is the ideal location in terms of its geography as it’s equidistant between the two main cities Trucast supplies to — Asheville and Charleston.
However, Trucast also exports all over the world cranking out 24,000 turbo-charged wheels every week.
“We’ve built other sites since, one in Mexico, but it’s fair to say the benchmark site is still Newberry, South Carolina in terms of its efficiency, its people, its attitude and everything else,” he said. “Best workforce I have ever had.”
Since opening their doors in 1997 Pritchard said he has done his best to bring other businesses to both the state and Newberry area and was even named the county’s economic ambassador in 2001.
“I was very humbled,” he said.
Reach Carson Lambert at 803-276-0625, ext. 1868, or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.