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January 27, 2010

Counties to celebrate contributions of new, existing companies




Outdoor Products Inc . The Okonite Co., Quality Model Plastics, Hikari Seiko, H.T. Hackney Co., Dana Corp. and Zeus Industries. Carolina Eastman. Alaglass Pools.

and the list continues.

Industry and Orangeburg and Calhoun counties have become synonymous in the minds of both residents and officials.

In recognition of the significant role both new and existing industries have played in building the local economy, the Orangeburg County Development Commission, the Calhoun County Development Commission, the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce, the Tri-County Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Central South Carolina Alliance and Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College will host an Industry Appreciation banquet. Industry Appreciation Week runs from Jan. 25-29 with the theme, “South Carolina: Where Business Works.”

The banquet will be held Thursday, Jan. 28, at the O-Ctech Student and Community Life Center. The gathering and dinner will run from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

The featured presentation will be by the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness on its current movement to create a “New Carolina.” The presentation will be on South Carolina distribution.

Deepal Eliatamby, president of Columbia-based Alliance Consulting Engineers and Co Chair of the New Carolina Distribution Cluster, will be the featured speaker.

The “New Carolina” initiative is aimed at creating a more prosperous future through raising the average income of South Carolinians, playing to the strengths of the state’s core industries by the focus on economic clusters, changing the economic environment through business and education as well as cooperation among all sectors to create a positive economic climate.

“Both Orangeburg and Calhoun are blessed with a logistical advantage,” Orangeburg County Development Commission Executive Director Gregg Robinson said, noting Orangeburg and the state’s “distribution-friendly infrastructure” offer a “competitive market proximity” for industries. “The formation of the distribution cluster is the first step in bringing together the state’s distribution industry players to collaborate to build and expand their products and services.”

As part of the Industry Appreciation observance, Orangeburg County recognizes an individual who has contributed to the local community in terms of new job opportunities and capital investment.

Husqvarna Outdoor Products, Orangeburg County’s largest employer of about 2,300, was the 2009 Orangeburg County Economic Development Ambassador of the Year. Plant Manager Gerry Coons represented the company and received the award.

Robinson said being the largest county employer and offering civic outreach to the Orangeburg County community are reasons the recognition.

“Advanced manufacturing is critical to the growth of manufacturing in our area,” Robinson said. “Husqvarna is a great worldwide company with a household name and presence. We are glad to have them here.”

Robinson said Husqvarna has been a mainstay in the Orangeburg area for years.

Robinson praised the plant management for doing its best to keep as many of its seasonal workers employed, as well as support this past year of the Orangeburg County aquatic facility.

Ambassadors are selected for their respective involvement in and contribution toward the advancement of the state’s economy. Efforts in the creation of new job opportunities and capital investment are among the two factors recognized.

In addition to Husqvarna, Robinson said other county industries seeing expansions in the past year include Albemarle, Koyo, Triumph Tube, Sims Bark, and Southern Patio.

“It was still a decent year,” Robinson said. “It was not our best, it was not our worst.”

Currently, Orangeburg County has about 13 million square feet under roof and continues to work with its core competency of foresty, textile and agriculture as well as aviation, aerospace and renewal energy projects.

Calhoun County

Calhoun County will join with Orangeburg in its celebration of industries at OCtech for the annual industry appreciation banquet.

Calhoun County Development Commission Executive Director Pat Black said the importance of recognizing industry and its contributions toward the improvement of the standard of living of county residents is significant.

“We want this to be a process that is continuous,” Black said. “We know that businesses certainly are struggling in this economy but they are the means through which we can recover and create wealth. We need to thank them for this and recognize them in their investment.”

Black acknowledged that 2009 was a difficult economic development year for the county where the focus was to support existing businesses in an effort to “keep them afloat.”

“We are hoping we are on the road to recovery now,” he said.

One of the bright spots in Calhoun County, Black said, is the announcement of airplane giant Boeing and its plans to move to North Charleston. He said Boeing’s arrival is a positive for Calhoun County.

“Everyone is looking around,” Black said. “People are preparing themselves for a recovery. We have seen an increase in business of what we call tire kickers (or inquiries). Some of those we want to put in the driver’s seat.”

As part of Industry Appreciation, the state named St. Matthews-based Hay Hill Services Inc. owner Fred Gantt III as Calhoun County Economic Development Ambassador of the Year.

Gantt has served as president and chief executive officer of Hay Hill Services since it incorporated in 1992.

Gantt started out in the basics of landscaping before Hay Hill blossomed into a full-scale outdoor design firm.

Gantt graduated from Presbyterian College with a degree in business.

“Fred represents a new generation, a young entrepreneur in Calhoun County,” Black said. “He is developing Calhoun County through capital investment and employment opportunities.”

In its first 16 years, Hay Hill set down roots by offering traditional landscape construction and installation services.

To supply the demand of its growing customer base, the company now employs its own team of brick masons and concrete finishers. A team also implements landscape, lighting and irrigation.

Hay Hill offers outdoor services ranging from landscape architecture and design to hardscape and landscape needs. The business primarily serves Columbia and surrounding areas.

Much of the company’s construction, installation and business are contracted out to landscape architects and designers.

Gantt now runs the business with his wife Lee and partner David Stack.

In 2005, Gantt and Stack opened up the Landscape Architectural Division of Hay Hill Services.

Gantt has contributed to the development of Calhoun County and South Carolina through capital investment, employment opportunities, tax base and community relationships.

Gantt was instrumental in bringing in the Congaree Bluffs Heritage Preserve in Calhoun County with the help of Calhoun County Rep. Harry Ott.

Gantt was also recognized for his time and resources given to improve the beautification of Calhoun County, including schools, churches and public places.

Beyond his professional accomplishments, Gantt is active in the county and in many civic and business organizations.

He is past president of the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, commissioner of the Calhoun County Soil and Water Conservation District, and he has served as a board member with the Belleville Fire Department in Calhoun County.

Bamberg County

Bamberg County, which is a part of the Southern Carolina Alliance, celebrated its industries in October when it held an industry appreciation banquet at the Sweetwater Country Club in Barnwell.

The SCA also includes Barnwell, Hampton and Allendale counties.

Bamberg County’s Economic Development Ambassador Bob Clary, former owner and operator of Bamberg’s WWBD radio station as well as former Bamberg County project manager for the Southern Carolina Alliance, received the highly coveted Bamberg County Economic Development Ambassador of the Year award at the banquet.

Through the years, Clary has been heavily involved in promoting the Bamberg community and has served as chairman of the Bamberg Board of Public Works Commission.

Clary was recognized for laying the groundwork for the planning and funding for the development of Cross Rhodes Region Park on U.S. 301 south of Bamberg.

In May 2003, officials broke ground at the 440-acre regional industrial park. Clary was also cited for his efforts in the development of the current speculative building at the park.

In addition to his direct economic development efforts, Clary also served as a broadcaster for the Bamberg-Ehrhardt Red Raiders. He also worked for a time at WORG in Orangeburg.

The banquet culminated a full week of October activities.

A golf tournament was held and GTI in Denmark hosted a marksmanship activity at the firefighting range in the South Carolina Advanced Technology Park in Barnwell.

In addition, the Southern Carolina Alliance also touted its industrial sector through the entire year with the message, “We Salute Our Industries for Providing Jobs Today, For Building Our Future Every Day.” The message was featured on billboards, radio and newspaper ads.

Statewide

Beyond Orangeburg County, the state will also celebrate its 19th Industry Appreciation Week.

Industry Appreciation Week is touted as an opportunity to express thanks to area companies for their contributions to the local communities, as well as a chance to build awareness that existing business is a fundamental driver of both the local and state economy.

Industry appreciation week is typically held in September but South Carolina Department of Commerce spokeswoman Kara Borie said the event was moved to January to better involve the General Assembly and to give its members the opportunity to learn more about industry activity throughout the state.

The awards ceremony for the ambassadors for economic development event will be held on the Statehouse grounds and the entire week will include a series of events that will involve the General Assembly and business- and industry-focused organizations.

The following organizations will hold events as part of industry appreciation week: South Carolina Economic Developers’ Association, National Federation of Independent Businesses-S.C., the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

Additionally, the week will provide a forum for discussion of issues impacting business and industry.