JOHNSONVILLE, S.C. – Johnsonville City Administrator Jim Smith said in terms of business, the biggest issue in the city this year has been the phasing out of a fiber line at Wellman Plastics Recycling in March.
With the line closing, more than 100 Johnsonville residents lost their jobs, Smith said.
“The good news is that they are ramping up their engineering resins line,” Smith said. “And what that is, they make the material that goes into car dashboards.”
Wellman Plastics Recycling deals with many auto manufacturers, including BMW, Smith said. And while the engineering resins line is ramping up, the fiber business is decreasing.
“Now the good thing is that they’re telling us their business model will start to develop over the next three to five years,” Smith said. “So what that means is that they’ll be hiring additional people for those product lines.”
Smith said the city of Johnsonville owns a treatment plant and processes all of the water Wellman uses. The company is the city’s largest customer.
“But what’s happened is, because they’re changing over these product lines, the amount of water they’re using is dropping off as well,” Smith said. “So, we’re not processing as much water for them as we normally would.”
The city’s treatment plant has a capacity of about 4.5 million gallons of water a day. Right now, the plant is processing about 1.5 million to two million gallons a day, which means the treatment plant is under capacity and not working as hard as it could and should, Smith said. Wellman was once pushing about 1.5 million gallons a day through the plant, but that has decreased to about 900,000- one million gallons a day, he said.
“The more water we process through that plant, the more money we make, the more we build customers,” Smith said.
The bottom line is that the city has temporarily lost some revenue, but it will begin to build it back with the ramping up of the new product lines at Wellman, Smith said.
The city of Johnsonville also had plans this spring to demolish an old IGA building on Broadway Street. Smith said the city planned to develop an architectural committee together to work on designs for a new municipal complex to be built in that space.
Smith said more buildings in downtown Johnsonville could be torn down soon due to condemnation, and he is looking into obtaining grant funds for façade work on other existing buildings.
Construction of the Yorkshire at the Providence, an affordable housing community, should begin soon, Smith said. He expects that to help increase development around S.C. 41-51 in Johnsonville.