BARNWELL, S.C. — As the economy is slow to recover in some parts of South Carolina, Barnwell County has been getting good news in the job market.
In the past three weeks, residents of the area have heard three different industry announcements totaling more than 460 jobs over the next few years.
Just over two years ago, Barnwell County lost more than 700 jobs as three industries closed their doors.
In spring 2009, Milliken, Allied Air and Hanesbrand either consolidated their Barnwell County plants into other facilities or simply closed the doors.
Many of those who lost their jobs remained unemployed as manufacturing jobs were becoming fewer in the area.
Barnwell County’s luck began to change Oct. 17 as NK Newlook announced it would invest more than $5 million dollars in the county as it relocated its Miami facility into Blackville. NK Newlook, which designs and produces display cases and retail store fixtures, is expected to create 212 jobs in the former Allied Air building.
The next announcement came just one week later as Doc Depot, a medical document retrieval service, announced it planned to expand existing operations in Barnwell County. This expansion is expected to generate 50 new jobs as the company moves its operations from a 3,000 square foot facility in Barnwell to a 6,000 square foot facility in Williston.
Sasco Safety, relocating from Alexandria, Egypt, announced it would be locating in the former Hanesbrand plant and would initially employ roughly 20 people. Once operations are under way, Sasco will employ 45 people.
CEO Kevin Bradley said he will locate additional divisions of his company in the Barnwell plant in the near future which he expects will account for an additional 150 jobs.
“It’s just odd that we would have this many job announcements at once,” Barnwell County Economic Development Director Marty Martin said.
As residents and local government officials are riding high on this good news, these announcements are not the end.
“Between now and the end of the year we will have two more announcements and an additional 100 jobs are anticipated,” he said.
Martin said most industries that are in the market to expand or relocate are seeking buildings that are ready to move into and although the closings in 2009 left functional buildings.
Martin said he is grateful the owners of the Hanesbrand and Allied Air buildings made them available at a reasonable price.