Industry expansion provides major benefits in Sumter - - Columbia, South Carolina

Industry expansion provides major benefits in Sumter


There are 89,000 tires made in South Carolina every day.

But once the workers are hired and the factory doors open, the trickle-down effect of a $500 million investment like the one made by Continental Tires can be seen on Sumter's main roads.

"The day of manufacturing being manual labor no longer exists," Central Carolina Technical College president Tim Hardee said. "It's a high-tech industry that requires a trained workforce and you have to have training beyond high school to compete for those jobs that are coming to Sumter."

To meet that demand, a former Wal-Mart will soon be turned into an advanced manufacturing technology training center. More than half of the students who enroll will be trained for jobs at Continental Tire.

"They've hired many of our graduates from our Megatronics program already to reach that 1,600-1,700 jobs," Hardee said.

But it's not just the manufacturers that are seeing the impact of these changes. The prosperity has spread to small businesses like Bubba's Diner.

"New people, new jobs, new money to spend," restaurant owner Cathy Rabon said. "We've also opened up East of Chicago Pizza thinking the students will just love to walk across the parking lot."

Even from a revenue standpoint, things seem to be looking positive.

"We haven't seen a full year of sales tax for this year," Sumter Chamber of Commerce President Grier Blackwelder said, "but in 2013, our sales tax was up about four percent."

According to Forbes, 53 percent of skilled workers are more than 45 years old. With many of them reaching retirement ages, training centers like this one may become more common as South Carolinas's manufacturing sector expands.

"What it says is we want more industry," Blackwelder said, "and we want to serve those that are here. Not just Continental, but all industry."

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