By Greg Oliver
LIBERTY – In an economic climate where most businesses and industries are downsizing or placing freezes on new hires, St. Jude Medical, Inc. is growing.
On Thursday, local leaders gathered in the company’s 60,000 square-foot, high-tech facility that opened last month to manufacture hybrid microelectronic circuits. The circuits are critical components used in the company line of implantable pacemakers and defibrillators and are produced in a clean room environment.
“St. Jude is growing and they are growing in a category that has seen growth even during these down economic times as well as capturing the market share from its competitors,” said Alliance Pickens Executive Director Ray Farley. “That is partly due to the product that is produced in Liberty, S.C.”
The expansion that occurred on approximately 23 acres south of the present building that opened three years ago will feature the creation of 300 new jobs over the next five years. The original plant features 300 employees and, to date, between 75-80 percent of the workforce consists of Pickens County residents.
“This is the kind of development that provides quality jobs for residents,” said State Rep. B.R. Skelton, of Clemson, citing figures estimating a current payroll of $15 million ultimately increasing to between $30-35 million as more jobs are added. “We are the envy of our neighbors.”
State Sen. Larry Martin, of Pickens, said the impact of St. Jude Medical, Inc. will be far reaching.
“St. Jude has become a tremendous asset to Pickens County, to Liberty and to South Carolina,” Martin said.
But U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett said St. Jude Medical’s greatest contribution is that it saves the lives of individuals everyday.
“You save a life every three seconds of every day — that’s incredible,” Barrett said. “I don’t know how you could have a better testimony in the world.”
St. Jude Medical, Inc. serves patients worldwide through medical device technology and services. The company has five major focus areas that include cardiac rhythm management, atrial fibrillation, cardiac surgery, cardiology and neuromodulation.