MARION, S.C. -- Marion County officials are anticipating more progress on the job front as a few opportunities are making an impact on cutting an unemployment rate that was as high as 21.3 percent nearly a decade ago and down to 7.7 percent in February.
The Marion County Economic Development Commission, Marion County Council and Mullins City Council members recently celebrated the arrival of DMA Holdings with a ribbon-cutting ceremony inside the renovated 300,000-square-foot Mullins distribution and technology center. The $4.7 million investment will hire as many as 34 employees.
Marion County Administrator Tim Harper could sense the momentum. Harper said it was the chance to bring good-paying jobs to the community.
“It’s exciting that we start the year with a great announcement,” he said. “We hope this is going to kick off an exciting year in 2018 with more announcements to come.”
Marion County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Dr. Julie M. Norman said a big factor in the job announcement was the inland port project in Dillon. She said it’s good for the region when news such as Harbor Freight Tools’ expansion at its Dillon distribution center can impact surrounding counties.
“I’m a huge supporter of anything going on in the region that is going to lift us up out of poverty,” she said. “That includes the inland port and the activity of Harbor Freight. Our people work there. A third of Harbor Freight’s workforce comes from Marion County.”
Norman helped acquire a $100,000 transportation grant to provide free bus rides for Marion County residents to and from work at Harbor Freight and Purdue Farms.
“My first goal is to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Marion County, and if that means putting them on a bus and getting them to where jobs are, then I’m going to do everything in my power to do that,” Norman said.
S.C. Sen. Kent Williams said the South Carolina State Ports authority is now able to increase efficiency and productivity for the business community.
“This means more jobs and a higher standard of living in this region of the state,” he said. “The Inland Port Dillon is also an investment in higher education. Our technical colleges will train workers to fill the current workflow needs for this facility.”
Officials look to make progress now with a new spec building. In 2012, the county was successful in constructing its first spec building, which was sold in 2015 to house Precision Southeast. Harper said the county council has proceeded with plans to construct a new 75,000-square-foot spec building at the Marion County Industrial Park.