Residents welcome $7.5 million electronics plant

Published: Aug. 22, 2013 at 7:29 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2013 at 7:30 PM EDT
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FAIRFIELD COUNTY, SC (WIS) - For a building that's been dark since 2008, people in Winnsboro say they are glad to know the lights will soon be back on.

One family knows all too well what it was like when the jobs left the Perry Ellis plant five years ago. The manufacturer of flat-screen televisions is bringing a $7.5 million investment and 500 jobs to the Fairfield County plant.

Element Electronics will locate a new 315,000 square foot television production facility in Winnsboro beginning in December.

Mary Evans watched the doors of the Winnsboro Distribution center close, when Perry Ellis packed up shop and moved out of town. That was in 2008. She's married to one of the 120 people who lost their jobs that day. Her husband worked at the plant for 20 years.

"It was really hard to see a lot of people who live here in Winnsboro, that were working here, lose their jobs," she said.

Now she's excited there could be a new life for the old building, though more excited for what's said to be coming.

"I never thought it would open back up," she said.

When Element Electronics turns the lights back on in the plant, they'll be powering up a high tech operation, manufacturing flat-screen TVs. They estimated they'll need 500 people to help do that.

"Significant announcement for us, a wonderful project," said Tiffany Harrison, Director of Fairfield County Economic Development.

She said the company had a list of potential places. The empty warehouse helped Fairfield County make the top.

"The number one drive for this project was to have a building to move into, and they needed a large building," Harrison said.

Mary's daughter Philana Evans hopes when the plant opens, one of those 500 jobs will be hers. She recently graduated from high school and has been searching for work.

"Some places in Winnsboro, some places in Blythewood, and in Columbia," she said.

She said working in the plant where her dad spent so many years would just be a good fit. Her mom agrees.

"Cause we really and truly need some jobs in Fairfield County,"Evans said.

This deal is still being worked out. We've learned that Perry Ellis is still the owner of the building, but if everything goes as planned, their sign will soon be down and Element Electronics will be moving in.

The company said they are bringing the jobs to South Carolina from China. This marks at least the second time that Element has brought manufacturing jobs back to the US. In March 2012, the company opened up a flat-screen television production plant in Detroit.

Officials with Element say they are expected to begin searching for new employees for the facility later this year.

Element manufactures TVs for such retailers as Walmart, Sam's Club, Target, Costco, and QVC.

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