DARLINGTON, S.C. -- 2018 saw the single largest new investment in Darlington County history.
In May 2018, Southern Current announced an investment of more than $340 million in the county. It will create 17 new solar farms. This announcement was the single largest solar farm investment in any county to date in South Carolina. The new solar farms will generate 250 megawatts, enough to power 40,000 homes.
The Darlington County Council invested a lot of time and energy over the past two years working with the planning department to update the county’s solar farm ordinance in an effort to draw projects such as this one to the area. Their efforts were rewarded with this announcement and others in the works.
Darlington County also has seen several local companies with smaller levels of expansion, which has resulted in improvements in the unemployment rate. The most recent unemployment figures are 4.2 percent as of January 2019, which is down from 5.9 percent just last year. The county has two more existing companies planning expansions this year, and hopefully this trend will continue.
The new Inland Port Dillon in nearby Dillon County has increased interest in the entire region, especially as the labor market isn’t as tight here as it is closer to the Port of Charleston. The inland port’s new transload facility for agricultural crops like soybeans and peanuts will also make it easier for local food producers to export their crops. Darlington County will have easy access to the inland port via rail and Interstate 95, and that should make us competitive for additional projects.
Over the past few years, we have significantly increased or improved our infrastructure. Hartsville created a new industrial park in 2018 with rail service located close to the city. This now gives us three industrial parks across the county with due diligence completed. The county also has two opportunity zones that include the Hartsville Industrial Park and the I-20 Industrial Park.
The recent announcement of a $1 million investment in high-speed broadband to Lamar will make it more competitive, as both small and large businesses require fast and reliable internet capabilities to succeed.
Further investments in infrastructure across the county will allow the entire county to be competitive in attracting new projects.
Opportunities are looking up, and the stage for future growth is being set in Darlington County.