Pickens Lands Industry from New York, 350 Jobs - Independent Mail
Posted on Feb 24, 2004
By David Williams
PICKENS — Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Co. Inc., a world leader in design, manufacture and distribution of fire sprinklers and system components, will move a majority of its New York state operation to Pickens County.
Gov. Mark Sanford and more than 80 Pickens County leaders filled the County Council’s meeting room Friday to make the announcement that means 350 new jobs and a $30 million investment in the county’s new industrial park.
The company will build a 300,000-square-foot facility on 56 acres in the 310-acre industrial park on U.S. 123 and Cartee Road.
Suitt Construction of Greenville will design and build the $12 million building.
Pickens County’s good news was sad news for Westchester County, N.Y., where workers learned of the company’s plans to move virtually its entire operation except for a headquarters office.
Frank J. Fee III, whose grandfather founded the company in 1920, and other family members that are corporate officers did not attend the announcement in Pickens County.
"They are spending time with their employees," said Barry Finkelstein, a spokesman for Alliance Pickens, the county’s economic development organization. "People work for this company for 30 to 35 years. It’s that type of family-oriented company, and they want to answer any questions the workers may have."
Mr. Finkelstein said about 50 employees in New York would be offered opportunities at the new Pickens County operation.
Reliable is expected to break ground on its new facility by mid-April and be in operation by the end of 2005.
While the company was lured to South Carolina with an attractive package of tax breaks, grants and workforce training, Reliable will pay about $12 million in taxes during the next 20 years in addition to bringing the 350 jobs to the county. Pickens County has lost 2,700 jobs in the last three years.
Tim Dangerfield, chief of staff for the South Carolina Department of Commerce, said South Carolina workers are second to none.
"Let there be no doubt," Mr. Dangerfield said, "Ron, Danny and Ray have been committed to this since day one."
Mr. Dangerfield was speaking of Ron Harrison, chairman of the Pickens County Council, Danny Youngblood, chairman of Alliance Pickens board of directors and Ray Farley, executive director of Alliance Pickens.
State Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, noted that several County Council and alliance members had felt the heat for developing the industrial park and pushing for a new U.S. 123 interchange.
The arrival of the first tenant in the industrial park already has officials looking forward to a second industry.
Darryl Broome, a spokesman for Rep. Gresham Barrett, R-Westminster, said, "This is an important first step. It will make people believe the park is real."