Marion County unemployment rate drops to record low, officials set sights on several projects

Construction on a speculative building at the Marion County Industrial Park is expected to be completed in May.

MARION, S.C. -- Marion County’s unemployment rate for February fell to a record low 5.3 percent and down from 7.7 percent last year.

Marion County Administrator Tim Harper said the focus now is creating more jobs for workers who will remain in the community. County officials are moving forward with several projects to address infrastructure needs while adding some jobs in the process.

“As we deal with losses of revenues, we have to find ways of replacing those revenues somehow,” Harper said. “The only way we can do that is by having a better tax base. We’re in the process of having a few big announcements coming in the next few weeks.”

In 2018, the county celebrated the arrival of DMA Holdings inside the renovated 300,000-square-foot Mullins distribution and technology center. The $4.7 million investment added 34 employees.

Early this year, Marion County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Julie M. Norman announced during the Marion County Progress Inc. annual meeting the sale of the Kunja Building along U.S. 76.

Maxwood Furniture Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of bedroom furniture, located its new distribution at the building as part of a $1.8 million investment projected to create 21 new jobs.

Harper said construction on a 100,000-square-foot speculative building at the Marion County Industrial Park is expected to be completed in May.

“It will allow us to have a building that is available for industries to come in,” Harper said. “We’ve got a product we can show to new industries.”

Norman said highlights for the year were 17 projects, five new solar farms, new manufacturing and distribution jobs and $21 million in capital investment.

Harper said the partnership on the Tri-County Park, an industrial park with Dillon, Marion and Marlboro counties, draws a 30 percent share in tax revenue.

In November, Marion County voters approved extending the one-cent capital sales tax. The tax will fund several capital projects.

Harper said the Marion County Council is going through the legal process for a general obligation bond to fund almost $14 million in projects that include a Palmetto 800 P25 Solution statewide radio and mobile data system; expansion for the sheriff’s office and detention center; an expansion project for the Green Street Sports Complex along with renovations to Marion City Hall, the Mullins Recreation Department’s Park Street gym and the Marion County Library; Nichols Centennial Park Amphitheatre and Sellers outdoor wellness center.

“The capital sales tax allows us the opportunity to do projects and not raise property taxes,” Harper said. “Most of our projects are projects that have to be completed.”

Harper said infrastructure issues have been a struggle as the county continues to seek reimbursement for clean-up in response to Hurricane Florence only two years after damage from Hurricane Matthew.

“It’s a very slow process and a burden, because the county has to absorb those costs,” Harper said. “We’re struggling with the storms and a lot of concerns of where do we go from here, but we are also seeing a lot of good things happening in Marion County.”

Born in Atlantic City; raised in Mullins. Graduated from SC State University, home of the mighty Bulldogs. Editor of the Marion Star & Mullins Enterprise. Loves spending free time with his daughter. Huge sports fan.

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