ORANGEBURG COUNTY, SC (WIS) - It was purely a random coincidence.
"I was just sitting here reading about BMW," said George R. Dean, who flipped through an SC BIZ magazine during a quiet afternoon at his fine clothing store in downtown Orangeburg. "I was reading here in the book, South Carolina now is one of the leading developers in the tire industry."
However, Dean was a bit surprised when WIS stopped by to get his take on a big business story brewing near his home. It was a story Dean knew nothing about.
"It would be a game changer for Orangeburg and Orangeburg County," he said.
A State House document suggests a Chinese tire manufacturer is looking to set up shop in Orangeburg County.
"We don't deny that we're working with the Department of Commerce for a quality advanced manufacturing project," wrote Orangeburg County Development Commission Director Gregg Robinson in a statement to WIS. "However, the County of Orangeburg and the Development Commission does not comment on projects that we may or may not be working on until an official press release is issued."
However, according to the State House document, Wanli Tire Corporation could soon invest no less than $400 million in Orangeburg County.
"If that is true, the quality of life will change for many, many people," said Dean.
At his store, Dean's Limited, Dean expects he'll feel the impact.
"Not only my business will feel an impact but the entire Orangeburg County community and the tri-county area will feel an impact," he said.
In a document signed by South Carolina Department of Commerce Director Bobby Hitt, at least 400 new jobs are promised.
A report from Beijing-based ChinaDaily.com is more generous. That report says Wanli "is expected to create" 1,200 jobs in Orangeburg County.
"We are a county where South Carolina State University and Claflin University, as well as Orangeburg Technical College exist, and so we train a lot of people, but we have not been able to retain a lot of our young people," said Dean.
Dean hopes this latest news will help.
Chinese media report says construction could begin in the first half of 2018.
If approved by state lawmakers, a General Obligation bond would be used to prep the site by constructing a railroad spur and roadways.