Diesel engine company picks Aiken County industrial park

A diesel engine maker has its eye on an empty facility in Graniteville, creating 250 jobs.

 

MTU Detroit Diesel Inc. announced today that it plans to move into Sage Mill Industrial Park, investing $45 million to convert a former auto parts plant into a production facility for its marine, railroad and power generating engines.

The company will formally select the site in about two months after it completes its due diligence process on the property, essentially awaiting the results of an environmental study, said spokeswoman Jennifer Riley.

The Aiken County Council will meet on Jan. 19 to vote on incentives for MTU Detroit Diesel, which has been called Project X prior to today’s announcement. Incentives involve financing, fees-in-lieu of taxes and other arrangements for the company. Aiken County would issue Special Source Revenue Bonds, not to exceed $1.1 million, for the company if it decides to locate in Graniteville.

“We are confident that MTU will find Aiken County and South Carolina to be an ideal location for their new operations and we look forward to the progression of this project,” said Joe Taylor, South Carolina’s commerce secretary.

The building in mind is the former location of for SKF USA Inc. For eight years, 250 people made wheel bearings for cars and heavy trucks in the 250,000-square-foot facility. In 2005, the company started moving production to Mexico, leaving empty the first tenant of Sage Mill Industrial Park.

“The SKF building has been vacant for over three years and it would be good to have a prestigious international company bring its operations to Aiken County,” said Ronnie Young, chairman of Aiken County Council. “Aiken County Council has worked hard to bring quality jobs to our community and MTU will be an excellent corporate neighbor upon the successful completion of the due diligence phase.”

MTU Detroit Diesel is a subsidiary of Germany-based Tognum Group. It employs 750 people in America, spread between production facilities in Detroit, Mankato, Minn., and other offices.

In December 2008, Tognum Group said it wanted to expand its operations in America.

Ms. Riley said the company could begin production in Graniteville by the end of the year, but would not reveal a timeline since the selection wasn’t final.

Fred Humes, the director of the Economic Development Partnership for Aiken and Edgefield counties, said the company would ramp up to 250 employees, reaching that level “within a couple of years.”

He said he feels good about the final steps in the process of landing the firm.

“It is a fine company. We’ve had a great working relationship and we look forward to them being here with us,” Mr. Humes said.

Ms. Riley also would not comment on the number of sites that competed for the diesel engine plant.

Mr. Humes said Sage Mill was the selection because of its proximity to an interstate highway and because of the workforce quality in Aiken County.

“They were looking to be in a community that was advanced in the technology of its manufacturing companies. That fits the bill with what we’ve got,” Mr. Humes said.

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