In the upper portion of South Carolina’s coastal plain, in a unique and beautiful location between Columbia, South Carolina and Charlotte, North Carolina, Chesterfield County has embarked on the next stage of its development journey…
Chesterfield County is home to over 46,000 people – individuals who are proud of their rural heritage but continue to strive for more. Leaders from across the county and stakeholders from various parts of the community and economy are inventively taking advantage of the county’s great natural assets to promote development that makes sense.
Emphasizing a better quality of life, Chesterfield County offers exceptional access with a low cost of living and a short commute, unlike many metro areas. The county is situated on the eastern seaboard halfway between New York and Miami, with access to a market of 1.6 million people within a 60-mile radius.
And if variety is the spice of life, Chesterfield County offers plenty of lively flavor. From anywhere in the county it’s a short drive to metropolitan areas, to mountains, or to the beach – something for everyone. The county has also taken decisive steps to preserve its rural heritage and its traditional, affordable way of life.
“The Wood Basket”
Director of the Chesterfield County Economic Development Board Kim Burch notes, “We are one of the largest counties area-wise in the state, but we are strictly rural and in the middle of our county is 100,000 acres of pine trees which puts us in the region called The Wood Basket.”
Besides wood, Chesterfield County also enjoys a bounty of water, an increasingly valuable asset. Burch explains, “We have an aquifer and we sit on the recharge center of that. Even during the drought several years ago, our aquifer went up five inches. The water is pure, and that’s one reason Nestlé Waters North America located a plant in McBee.”
Additionally, Chesterfield County is home to three granite pits as it sits on the third largest granite deposit in the world. There are also plans to re-explore a moth-balled gold mine in Jefferson. Pan Continental has taken the mine out of receivership and plans on exploring it for the first time since the 1980s, a testament to the county’s development trajectory.
According to Burch, Chesterfield County is proud to have many longstanding industries, including metal-working. “We are the largest metal-working area in the eastern part of the United States per capita and we are the largest metal-working county in the state per capita,” she says.
Chesterfield County is home to a number of major employers like Schaeffler Group, Stanley Black and Decker, Highland Industries, A.O. Smith Corporation, Conbraco Industries, Walmart Distribution, Titan Stainless, Carolina Canners, Crown Cork and Seal, and Screwmatics of South Carolina Inc., all of which have strong reputations in their respective industries.
Room to thrive
One of the challenges to development in Chesterfield County is limited supply of available properties that meet industry needs. For instance, many existing buildings have low ceiling heights which are prohibitive to the operations looking to relocate or expand in the county.
Luckily, Chesterfield County has land available and room to grow. A spec building is currently in the works, and, weather permitting, the building should be underway in a couple of months. It will offer 105,000 square feet of space and will boast ceiling heights of 32 feet and more.
Collectively, stakeholders in Chesterfield County are working to support business by providing the resources needed to thrive. Investments are being made in infrastructure in the county to ensure that roadways, wastewater treatment facilities, and other assets have sufficient capacity to support all growth and development.
Organizations like the Chesterfield County Economic Development Board are taking the lead. As Burch says, “We are the main engine, the little-train-that-could that helps cultivate new industry to come to our county. We work with existing industry in the county in any way we can to support them and make their life here in the county better.”
Partnering for growth
Collaboration and partnership is necessary to foster ideal economic conditions and promote a business-friendly approach to development and there are countless partners that Chesterfield County Economic Development Board relies on to make this a reality.
These include the South Carolina Manufacturer Extension Program, SC Works, Ready SC, utility providers, towns in the county, and legislators at various levels of government. Also educational institutions like Northeastern Technical College, which offers training and apprenticeship programs to support local and regional employers.
“There’s training for just about any job you want to do. They respond to industry needs,” Burch says. She hails the local education system for the role it plays in supporting industry, and the way that its training programs meet local employers’ needs for certain skills.
“Our school district is amongst the best in the state – we were sixteenth out of almost one hundred school districts in the state a couple of years ago,” Burch says – a tribute to the strength and the success of this rural community in the context of its developmental efforts.
A development project that’s making a real difference is the proposed expansion of Highway #9 into four lanes. Work on the last remaining fourteen-mile stretch of Highway #9 is set to take place over the next few years, adding further impetus to Chesterfield County’s development efforts, and making it increasingly attractive to infrastructure-reliant businesses and industries.
Into the future
A bounty of resources and an established plan of action means Chesterfield County is well on its way to becoming the community and economy it wants to be, taking advantage of its many assets and all the opportunities that arise to advance its economy and bring greater prosperity to the community, in turn preserving and expanding the quality of life enjoyed by all.
It will be exciting to see how far Chesterfield County goes over the next few years. It’s clearly set to achieve its development goals and to make the county not only a great place to live, but somewhere where business success is all but guaranteed thanks to the leadership, the resources, and the support available from organizations like the Chesterfield County Economic Development Board and its motivated partners.