NEWBERRY — Thirty-five percent of county jobs are in manufacturing, something the Newberry County Chamber of Commerce recognized at its ninth annual business appreciation dinner on April 10.
County Director of Economic Development Teresa Powers expressed appreciation to county businesses while recognizing how manufacturing jobs and payroll add to the tax base and help stimulate the local economy.
County Councilman Les Hipp recognized fellow county councilmen Scott Cain and John Caldwell for their contributions to the county economic development committee.
“Sometimes (in our quest to attract new industry) we forget to thank the industry that currently is here,” Hipp said.
Hipp touched on what he called a great year for Newberry County industry with Phase I completed with the Kisswire expansion, West Fraser’s announcing significant expansion and a spec building being completed in the Mid-Carolina Commerce Park.
Hipp said 75 percent of prospects in the state are looking for existing facilities before they locate somewhere.
“Now we can look for a tenant and we have had some interest in (the building),” he said.
He also mentioned the mega site with 2,000 contiguous acres of property the county currently is marketing and the importance that mega site places in bringing in industry beyond what people expected to recruit in the past.
Hipp said he had spoken to Gov. Nikki Haley, who said it is not a matter of if but a matter of when a tenant comes to the mega site, something Hipp said would be life changing for Newberry County.
As part of the toast of the town ceremony, Newberry County recognized Newberry Electric Cooperative head Keith Avery as its 2014 Economic Development Ambassador.
Avery joined the Newberry community in 2011 when he was hired as head of NEC.
Hipp said Avery played a key role in securing the Santee Cooper loan that helped fund the new 50,000-square-foot speculative building located in the Mid-Carolina Commerce Park. Newberry County was the first entity in the state to receive funding under the new program.
“Avery recognized the need to have the product to attract industry to the area and brought together the appropriate leaders to move the spec building initiative forward,” Hipp said.
Avery was also honored for community leadership as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Newberry Business Alliance.
The Chamber of Commerce also recognized Avery’s role in the Vision 2015 group, a collaboration of the Chamber and the Newberry Business Alliance on the county’s economic development efforts.
“Avery brings a strong yet reasoned voice to this group, advocating for workforce and community initiatives that will help attract industry and make Newberry County a better place for everyone to work and live,” Hipp said.