In response to customer demand, a Swiss manufacturer of engineered wood products will expand its operations in Barnwell County.
The Swiss Krono Group and its American subsidiary, KronotexUSA Holdings, Inc., will invest $230 million into the expansion project and could be a major shot in the arm for the Barnwell County economy, said Clemson Economist, Bruce Yandle.
The area is one of South Carolina’s weaker economic regions, he said. In the last year, the county has lost 245 jobs, which is close to the expected additions from the announced expansion.
Barnwell County’s total employment now stands at 5,344.
The company’s investment will cover the construction of a high-density fiberboard (HDF) mill and expansion of its laminate flooring production, creating 105 new jobs over the next few years.
Barnwell County appreciates Kronotex’s investment in our workforce and the impact the company has had on our community, said Tommy Boyleston, Barnwell County EDC Chairman.
“These new jobs are welcome news for the families of Barnwell County,” he said.
According to a release issued by the South Carolina Department of Commerce, the expansion will allow KronotexUSA to produce 300,000 cubic-meters of HDF per year, which the company will use for laminate flooring manufacturing operations and sell to furniture, cabinet, fixture, door and other wood-based manufacturers. In total, the project will increase the company’s annual laminate flooring capacity by an additional 8 million square-meters.
South Carolina has been a great investment partner for European countries, said Max Von Tippelskirch, member of the Swiss Krono Group Management Board.
“We appreciate the collaborative efforts of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and our many partners, including Barnwell County governmental agencies,” he said. “Their patience, perseverance and continuous support have been and will continue to be instrumental in the future success of our South Carolina operations.”
Preliminary engineering has been completed and construction is expected in mid-2016, with HDF operations to begin by the summer of 2018. Once completed, the expansion will increase KronotexUSA’s Barnwell County’s workforce to 275 employees.
The Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved job development credits, as well as a $1 million Rural Infrastructure Fund grant to Barnwell County to assist with the costs of real property improvements related to the project.