By Rocky Nimmons
The official groundbreaking ceremony for St. Jude Medical’s 60,000 square foot hybrid facility and the official ribbon cutting of its new completed facility at the Pickens County Commerce Park was held on Wednesday, October 25. St. Jude representatives, along with state and local dignitaries and those respon¬sible for the site were on hand for the event.
Pickens County Executive Director of Alliance Pickens County Ray Farley said, “This is a great day. We are here under a tent on a beautiful fall day in Pick¬ens County, celebrating this joy¬ous event. You all know and un¬derstand that this was not an overnight success by any stretch of the imagination.”
“It took an entire community to get were we are today. County Council members going back 10 years or more, who sat down with the folks at the De¬partment of Commerce to help develop an infrastructure in the Pickens County Commerce Park upon which commerce can take place. I may stand here as the hired hand of Alliance Pickens but I represent a whole host of people that had a hand in where we are today,” Farley added.
Farley said the hybrid project would bring 300 high technology jobs that are needed in Pickens County.
Pickens County Council Chairperson Jennifer Willis told all in attendance that this was another tremendous day for Pickens County. She added that Pick¬ens County had come a long way in three years. With St. Jude Medical’s expansion, the com¬merce park now would offer 1,040 jobs.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham was on had for the event and said Pickens County is home and that the county’s strongest asset was its young people. “God bless this county. God bless this company and God bless America,” Graham concluded.
“I have to compliment you folks from South Carolina. You sure move quickly. The last time, which was a little over a year ago, Dave Ewing and I came out to the construction site, the steel was up and it was a sea of mud. When I came back today, I was not disappointed,” said St. Jude Medical CRMD President Mike Coyle.
“At that time, I was in the midst of making some decision about what we were going to do in the long term in our organization and how we were going to expand. Our Hybrid facility in Arizona was beginning to burst at the seams in terms of how much production we needed,” said Coyle. “We specifically looked at the state of California, the state of Arizona, two loca¬tions in the state of Texas and South Carolina. We also looked at some diverse location includ¬ing China, Singapore, Thailand, Ireland, The Czech Republic, Porto Rico and Costa Rica. The decision process led us here and you should all be extremely proud of that fact.”
Coyle said that the decision to expand in South Carolina fo¬cused three criteria. The first of which was quality, second was innovation and third the cost. He said that if cost was the only consideration, there were a num¬ber of locations were St. Jude could have built.
“You will notice that I listed cost as number three. The first two were the most important; quality and the level of innovation in our product line. What a defibrillator does is sit inside a person’s body and 24 hours a day it monitors their heart rate. If they go into a cardiac arrest, that device has three to four seconds to decide if it is a life threatening event,” Coyle said.
During the ceremony B.R. Skelton was presented with a plaque honoring his part in making the commerce park a reality. In the mid-1990s, Skelton was named the chairman of a subcommittee for Alliance Pickens which helped provide the funds for the Highway 123/Cartee Road interchange.
“This industrial park didn’t get here by itself, St. Jude Medi¬cal didn’t get here by itself, and others didn’t get here by themselves” It has been a cooperative effort,” Skelton said.
By Rocky Nimmons