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Joe W. King: Local Investment and Development in a Global Economy

By Joe W. King May 20, 2013

The head of Florence County, S.C.'s economic development partnership discusses global opportunities for local economies.

Florence County in South Carolina is a proven location for world-class business and industry. Our commitment to a job well done has won us many friends in the international business community, and our skilled workforce is bolstered by seven technical colleges in a 60-mile radius with enrollment in excess of 12,000 students.

Yet as we’re fond of saying in the South, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” In other words, we’ve had success!

Since 1997, we’ve seen more than $1.1 billion in capital investment right here in Florence County. We were also recently named among America’s top 50 cities for business relocation and expansion by Expansion Management Magazine, and we take that recognition seriously by actively working to recruit new business and industry to the county while helping our existing industries grow and expand. For example, international firms such as ABB, Heinz, Honda, Johnson Controls, Monster, Otis Elevator, QVC, Roche and many others have made Florence County home and are expanding.

In speaking with our organization recently, South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt was optimistic about the state and our county’s economic future. Hitt said that South Carolina has been adding about 1,000 manufacturing jobs per month over the past 20 months, which leads the nation. This progress is part of the state’s drive to return manufacturing to a larger place in the state’s business ecosystem. “We know how to do this in South Carolina,” said Hitt, “and you know how to do it here in Florence and throughout the Pee Dee.”

We work hard alongside government and the private sector to maintain a business climate conducive to capital investment and profitability, and expansions like that of GE Healthcare speak volumes about our county’s ability to support and nurture business.

GE Healthcare has played an absolutely integral role in Florence County’s economy over the past three decades as one of our largest industrial employers. The fact that GE’s global “MR Center of Excellence” facility is located here in Florence is a true testament to the pro-business climate Florence County provides to its employers and our highly skilled work force. It is also telling that GE’s manufacturing plant in Florence has produced around one-third of the world’s super-conducting magnets for use in magnetic resonance (MR) medical imaging systems.

 The impact of GE Healthcare and companies like it in Florence County, the State of SC, and beyond, is immeasurable and we are thrilled to have these fine corporate citizens continue to thrive and grow here. 

Joe W. King is executive director of the Florence County Economic Development Partnership.