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UPDATE: 1641 revealed...Roseburg coming to Chester

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By Staff Reports

It doesn't have to go by the code name "1641" any longer.

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On Tuesday, in a special ceremony held at the Gateway Conference Center, it was announced that Roseburg Forest Products would locate a new engineered wood products plant in Chester County.

The company, a manufacturer of forest products headquartered in Springfield Ore., will build a 450,000 -square foot facility and plans to employ 145 people when at full capacity. Total capital investment for the project will be $200 million, it was announced at the luncheon on Tuesday following the initial announcement.

Located off  S.C. Highway 9, six miles east of Chester, Roseburg’s new Chester County plant will manufacture structural beams used in residential and commercial construction. Hiring for the new positions is projected to begin in spring 2018, and career information will soon be available on Ready SC’s website. Company officials say Roseburg plans to be in production by 2019.

Employing more than 3,000 people in the United States, Roseburg Forest Products features a portfolio of products that includes lumber, softwood plywood, composite panels, engineered wood, wood chips and more. With a strong focus on environmental stewardship and sustainability, the company markets products to customers throughout North America. It also owns and sustainably manages more than 630,000 acres of timberland in Oregon and California. The company, founded in 1936, has been a family-owned business for 75 years.

Company officials say they chose Chester because of its interstate access, ample rail and its "good livability." They plan to work with readySC for a hiring plan.

The ball got rolling on this project last year. The code name 1641 actually indicates this was the 41st project worked by Chester County Economic Development in 2016. In May, Chester County Council voted to allow Economic Development Director Karlisa Dean to enter negotiations with the at-that-time unnamed company. The council has engaged in closed-door discussions on the project in each meeting since that time.

This past Friday, the council held a special-called meeting with the only order of business being approving “an ordinance authorizing the execution and delivery of a fee in lieu of tax agreement by and between Chester County and Project 1641, the inclusion of certain real property located in Chester County in a multicounty industrial park; the provision of credits against fee in lieu of tax payments; the execution and delivery of such documents as may be necessary to effect the intent of this ordinance and other matters related thereto.”

That was passed unanimously, though Councilman Alex Oliphant recused himself from the vote (and from any previous discussion of the matter), because of a possible conflict of interest.

The council approved second reading at its regular meeting last Monday. Third reading was to have been part of a special-called meeting on Monday, but third reading and the associated public hearing were abruptly pulled from agenda. Still both Dean and County Supervisor Shane Stuart indicated everything was going as planned and the announcement was still on for Tuesday.

Chester County has been the home of several big industrial announcements in recent years. Giti Tires announced in 2014 that it would invest over $500 million in a Chester County facility (the company’s first North American plant) and eventually employ 1,700 people. Giti expects to produce its first tire in that plant later this year.

Dean illustrated recently exactly how important industry is to Chester and how much it has grown in recent years.

“Eleven percent of South Carolina's total employment in 2016 was in the manufacturing industry (and) 27.3-percent of the employment in Chester County is in manufacturing. Forty-one existing manufacturers announced expansions in 2016. Nine of those manufacturers made 10 announcements and were from Chester County. (There were) 47,000 new manufacturing jobs announced between 2011and 2016 (and) 2,821 of those were in Chester County,” Dean said in an email.

 The county is working some other projects as well. At its last meeting of June, Chester County Council discussed three projects in executive session: the aforementioned Project 1641, Project 1725 and Project 1702. The council voted to authorize Dean to “proceed with negotiations” with 1725 and 1702.

  

Roseburg: Five Fast Facts

•       Roseburg Forest Products is locating a new engineered wood manufacturing plant in Chester County.

•       New development will create more than 145 jobs.

•       Based in the Pacific Northwest, Roseburg Forest Products offers a diversified portfolio of wood products with a focus on sustainability.

•       Roseburg Forest Products' new Chester County plant will manufacture structural beams used in residential and commercial construction.

•       Hiring for the new positions should begin in spring 2018 and interested applicants should visit ReadySC's website.