State’s Northeastern Region Reports New Jobs And Investment

FLORENCE – Counties in South Carolina’s northeastern region reported more than 930 million dollars in new investment with over 700 jobs created based on public announcements.
“This has been a rewarding year of announcements, job creation and developing projects for our region,” said Yancey McGill, a former S.C. lieutenant governor and North Eastern Strategic Alliance (NESA) executive committee chairman, “We are excited to see the amazing opportunities these announcements provide and the potential for further growth and development.”
According to NESA – the non-profit regional economic development group serving Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Marion, Marlboro and Williamsburg counties – the region had over $930 million in new investment as well as the creation of 723 jobs in 2023.
The regional unemployment rate was just over 3% as of December 2023. Employment in the NESA region at the end of December was over 331,000.
Regionally, there were 10 announcements: four were existing industry expansions and six were new locations.
“We want to congratulate and commend each of these companies for making investments in our communities.” McGill said, “To everyone, particularly the economic developers and county leaders, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to bring these projects to fruition, we want to thank each and every one of you.”
“In addition to the economic growth and announcements we’ve seen over the past year,” McGill said. “Our region has also been nationally recognized with the City of Florence ranked in the top fifty cities for overall economic growth and Myrtle Beached ranked in the top five cities for prime workforce.”
Looking forward, McGill said he is optimistic about the year ahead.
“We will continue to proactively work with county economic developers, allied partners and entities at the state level to promote product development in the region,” he said. “We will continue to employ strategic recruiting initiatives and stay fully engaged to support each of our counties’ economic development efforts.”
McGill noted that the NESA staff provide tools to make it easier for searching and virtually touring available sites in the region. All of these tools, along with NESA’s 2023 Annual Report, can be found at NESA had their annual meeting on February 15, 2024.
Here are county-by-county updates and outlooks:

Dillon County
Population: 27,738
Unemployment rate: 4.0%
Average annual wages: $39,640
GDP: $887,854,000
2023 in review:
Dillon County contracted Rodney Berry, of Berry Strategies, LLC, in September 2023 to handle the county’s economic development initiatives. Berry was Dillon County’s former administrator during the Inland Port Dillon and Harbor Freight expansion announcements. He formerly worked as a congressional director focusing on economic development for eight counties.
“The environment here under the new county administrator Tim Harper, formerly Marion County administrator, is very optimistic. His leadership and the county council members’ vision are in sync and, accompanied by the phenomenal attributes of I-95 and Inland Port Dillon, are making the county an excellent place to do business,” says Berry.
2024 expectations:
Dillon County anticipates two upcoming announcements. The Dillon County Public Private Partnership, now referred to as DCP3, has been reorganized with committed, strong members composed of business and industry leaders in the county. DCP3 instated an Ambassador Program with sessions held throughout the year to better inform interested participants in the economic process. DCP3 intends to live up to their slogan: ALIVE ON I-95.

Chesterfield County
Population: 43,683
Unemployment rate: 3.2%
Average annual wages: $44,998
GDP: $1,692,676,000
2023 in review:
The Chesterfield County Economic Development office experienced transitions over the year with the retirement of two talented employees, Cherry McCoy and Connie Spencer, and the addition of two new energetic hires, Lisa Gainey for existing industry and project coordination and Courtney Hicks Hair for grants and administration. McCoy continues to serve as external advisor on a part-time basis.
The office hosted a business roundtable, aided by the South Carolina Department of Commerce, and an investor luncheon for NESA.
Chesterfield County had three industrial closings in 2023: Chesterfield Yarn Mills in Pageland, Stanley Black & Decker in Cheraw, and JoeAnne Narrow Fabrics in Chesterfield. Around 210 people in total were displaced. While several chose retirement due to their length of employment, Chesterfield County Economic Development assisted SC Works with a job fair for Stanley. Over one hundred of the dislocated workers participated with over 35 companies represented. Chesterfield County hosted a well-attended workshop for JoeAnne employees to learn about opportunities from the PeeDee Transition Coordinator.
2024 expectations:
Chesterfield County will be receiving payments for the next thirty years from six solar projects that were approved in 2023. The investment from the solar companies will be over $473,000,000.
The 100,000-square-foot speculative building at Lynches River Industrial Park in Pageland, built by Marlboro Development Team in 2022, was sold in 2023. The company, known only as Project Furnace, will be making a $64 million investment and will be hiring 57 employees over the next several years. The company wants to postpone giving more information about its product until the grand opening later in the year.
Construction is starting in February on the first phase of water into Lynches River Industrial Park along with the final phase of the road through the park.
NESA and the SC Department of Commerce provided the bulk of financing for due diligence at Alligator Industrial Park in McBee, S.C. This is an 871-acre rail-served park with an ample water supply.
Chesterfield County is working with the PeeDee Council of Governments on a comprehensive plan for zoning and planning that will serve as a guideline for future growth. All eight municipalities have representation on the committee.
The county welcomes Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority as it begins providing county-wide coverage starting January 29, 2024.

Darlington County
Population: 62,398
Unemployment rate: 3.2%
Average annual wages: $55,149
GDP: $3,278,795,000
2023 in review:
Darlington County saw approximately $300 million in existing industry capital project expansions completed in 2023. These existing industry expansions represent industry commitments to manufacturing in Darlington County. Remelt Sources Inc. announced a seven-million-dollar capital project expansion with the creation of 40 new jobs. In 2023, Darlington County Council approved approximately $590 million in solar farm projects. This brings the potential solar farm capital dollar investment approved by Darlington County Council since 2021 to over one billion dollars.

Workforce development committees continue to work with leaders in local private industry, Darlington County public schools, Florence-Darlington Technical College and Coker University to properly align education opportunities and career opportunities in Darlington County.

2024 Expectations:

Darlington County Economic Development Partnership (DCEDP) will continue to strive to meet the needs of existing industries within the county. As part of this initiative, DCEDP will continue to engage with business, community and education leaders to create innovative employee training. Darlington County will continue to focus on new industry recruitment through improved educational alignment, skilled workforce and enhanced industrial sites.

Florence County
Population: 136,721
Unemployment rate: 2.9%
Average annual wages: $49,280
GDP: $8,528,453,000
2023 in review:
Florence County’s economic development initiatives yielded impressive results in 2023. Including unnamed project activity, the county contributed to over 90% of the announced capital investment in northeastern South Carolina with commitments for $917 million in new capital investment and 707 new jobs. These achievements are a testament to the community’s collaborative spirit and commitment to growth.
In December, AESC announced the expansion of its state-of-the-art battery cell facility in Florence County. The $810 million investment will create 450 new jobs resulting in a total investment by the world-leading electric vehicle battery technology company of $1.62 billion and 1,620 new jobs.
Product development initiatives continue throughout the county, with two speculative buildings constructed this year.
A 100,107-square-foot speculative building within the newly developed Florence Industrial Park South located in Scranton is now complete.
Marlboro Development Team’s 117,180-square-foot speculative building at Pee Dee Commerce City West, located on S.C. Highway 327 at exit 170 on Interstate 95 is also complete.
2024 expectations:
2023 was another outstanding year and Florence County Economic Development Partnership enters 2024 with continued momentum. The county industrial construction pipeline consists of over two million square feet with an evenly spaced delivery timeline, allowing the market to maintain consistent growth throughout 2024. The stabilizing interest rate environment, year-over-year performance improvement and continued user demand is expected to create additional opportunities in 2024 for the Florence market.
Florence County Economic Development Partnership recently engaged MRB Group to create a strategic plan for the organization. Delivery of the strategic plan is expected to be complete by the third quarter in 2024. An emphasis on workforce development initiatives and continued product development efforts is expected.
This coming year celebrates a remarkable milestone, Florence County Economic Development Partnership proudly marks their 25th anniversary (1999-2024) as a testament of collaboration between the public and private sectors. Two and a half decades of dedicated efforts have propelled the community toward growth, innovation and economic prosperity. This anniversary is a testament to the unwavering commitment of both public and private stakeholders who have played a pivotal role in shaping the county’s success story.
Georgetown County
Population: 64,722
Unemployment rate: 3.3%
Average annual wages: $47,708
GDP: $3,325,876,000
2023 in review:
Two companies broke ground in Georgetown County last year.
Sherpa 6, a service-disabled veteran-owned technology company, finished its first hangar at the Georgetown County Airport. Operations have started and the company looks forward to hiring more operators and pilots. Its plan involves building two additional hangars.
WingIts Innovations, a specialty designer and manufacturer, had its ribbon cutting ceremony in February of last year. It started operations and are filling forty positions. The Georgetown-based facility serves as its central hub for processing goods and providing on-demand product shipping.
Zilmet USA, a worldwide leader in the production of expansion vessels and heat exchangers, broke ground on the construction of a 150,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in the Georgetown County Business Center in Andrews, S.C. Phase one of the project is scheduled to be completed in late 2024.
In July, the South Carolina Ports Authority transferred the Georgetown Port property to Georgetown County. The property sits on 246 acres. Since July, structural and environmental due diligence have been done to determine the port’s highest and best use.
2024 expectations:
Georgetown County anticipates the momentum of 2023 to continue this year. Various projects and development are in process in anticipation of growth in Georgetown County.
Georgetown County Business Center (GCBC) is a 633-acre industrial park located off U.S. Highway 521 near Andrews, S.C. Rail access for the site is under construction and expected to be complete before the end of the year. Three more industries have established operations in the park. Through a continuous partnership with Santee Electric Cooperative, a second 100,000-square-foot speculative building is currently under construction at the Business Center and is expected to be complete mid- to late 2024.
Pennyroyal Industrial Park on Pennyroyal Road boasts 560 developable acres. This industrial park provides Georgetown County with a unique opportunity as it is the largest site of only a few located on the East Coast with barge and rail access. Pennyroyal Industrial Site continues to spark interest among potential projects. Due Diligence for this site has been completed. Georgetown County Economic Development is working with a civil engineering firm to update the design and permitting to provide rail access to the park.
The Georgetown County Airport continues to thrive with an increase in tourism and business coming into Georgetown County. With the announcement of Sherpa 6, the airport has become a viable site for future aviation-related businesses. With this, Georgetown County Economic Development and the Georgetown County Airport partnered to complete a master plan to attract complementary businesses to the airport property. This opportunity allows Georgetown County Economic Development to market the airport property as its third industrial site.
Horry County
Population: 383,101
Unemployment rate: 3.3%
Average annual wages: $45,108
GDP: $18,252,965,000
2023 in review:
Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development (MBREDC) continued to build on the momentum of the DC Blox Cable Landing Station, previously announced in 2022. Myrtle Beach is the first subsea cable landing station in South Carolina and the technology sector has found Horry County an ideal location for business. Google and META both announced additional cables to be based at the DC Blox Cable Landing Station. This underwater internet traffic system will connect Myrtle Beach to South America, Europe and Bermuda. DC Blox has already announced a total investment of $90 million as of 2023.
Existing industries in Horry County continue to grow and thrive. MBREDC continues growing the “Industry Awareness Course” which gives Myrtle Beach area business leaders the opportunity to visit and learn more details on the numerous manufacturing operations found throughout Horry County. Overall, Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development continues to work with its regional and state partners, such as NESA and the SC Department of Commerce, to recruit targeted industries to Horry County.
2024 expectations:
Entering 2024, Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development foresees another great year for Horry County with several sites and speculative building development projects already underway. Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development also anticipates many exciting announcements for 2024 within the distribution, aviation, manufacturing and technology industry sectors.
With the Myrtle Beach MSA being one of the fastest growing areas in the U.S. for three consecutive years, business leaders are taking notice of the opportunities and assets found in Horry County. The Marlboro Development Team speculative building at Ascott Valley Industrial Park broke ground in January. This will be a 100,490-square-foot speculative building that can be expanded up to 153,360 square feet and has an expected completion date before the end of the year.
The Palmetto Coast Industrial Park is 69 acres located in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. A private developer is constructing four speculative buildings ranging from 157,000 square feet to 217,000 square feet. Palmetto Coast Industrial Park will be able to accommodate users needing from 25,000 up to 217,000 square feet. One of the buildings has a commitment from Pepsi Bottling Ventures to be a future tenant.
This year, Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development is ensuring all industrial parks are site-ready and anticipates both the Cool Springs Business Park and the Loris Industrial Park to be deemed a “Palmetto Site” with all due diligence updated and utility details on hand.
Marion County
Population: 28,450
Unemployment rate: 4.1%
Average annual wages: $40,583
GDP: $728,227,000
2023 in review:
Marion County had approximately $1.2 million in new investment which will create 27 new jobs. The County saw a significant increase in solar projects with approximately $200 million in capital investment having passed 2nd and 3rd readings for solar farm development.
Marion County signed an agreement with a developer to invest $3.5 million to construct a 150,000 square foot speculative building within the Industrial Park. To prepare for new industry in the coming years, the county acquired approximately 420 acres to develop for industrial use and to establish a new industrial park since the current park is full.
In addition, the runway at the Marion County Airport was extended to 5,000 feet and now includes amenities for pilots should they need a stopover during flights. In 2023, a strong emphasis and focus was placed on assisting existing industry with workforce needs and connecting industry leaders with resources to align them with opportunities for expansion soon.
An Industry Roundtable series was developed in partnership with Marion County Progress to deepen the conversations with existing industry on how to specifically address the more individual needs they may have.
2024 expectations:
In 2024, Marion County will continue working on a streamlined workforce initiative with leaders in the county, schools and existing local industry in an effort to strengthen and broaden the workforce pipeline. This collaborative effort will establish various avenues to assist residents with developing skills and certifications while building awareness of available jobs.
The County will also continue working with PDRTA to establish transit lines in addition to the routes that are already running. Marion County and PDRTA will also be working together to create safer bus shelters for passengers to better assist the members of the community outside of the workplace.
In the new year, Marion County plans to see construction on a new spec building with plans for a second spec building to be located within the newly identified industrial park, further into the year. Accompanying the new buildings will be the establishment of an RV park located at the former Swamp Fox Amphitheater Complex.
The County will also be looking forward to the expansion of multiple existing industries and to more development of solar farms around the area with another $250 million in the pipeline. The main focus is on growing the existing industry located in our county while creating a favorable environment and climate for new industry to make Marion County its next location.
Marlboro County
Population: 26,039
Unemployment rate: 6.4%
Average annual wages: $49,794
GDP: $918,304,000
2023 in review:
Marlboro County continued marketing its 50,000-square-foot speculative building and the 800,000-square-foot former Mohawk Facility as part of its initiative to attract more industry to the county. Marlboro County identified over 10,000 acres for future industrial development (Greenfield Sites) throughout the county.
The county broke ground on a new Trinity Behavioral Health Care facility. The new facility will provide mental health care for the residents of Marlboro County and the neighboring communities. Construction is nearly complete on a new Workforce Development Center, which includes workforce incubators SC Works and NETC Bennettsville Campus. The new Workforce Development Center and the new Trinity Behavioral Health Care Facility are scheduled for completion by June of 2024. Lastly, the county hired a new County Administrator, Tony Clyburn, and a seasoned Executive Director of Economic Development, Tonny McNeil.
2024 expectations:
The Marlboro County Economic Development Partnership enters 2024 with a renewed focus on developing more available product such as industrial sites and buildings, enhanced infrastructure and workforce development.
Williamsburg County
Population: 30,058
Unemployment rate: 4.8%
Average annual wages: $47,056
GDP: $856,063,000
2023 in review:
Williamsburg County had a productive year in 2023. The county welcomed their newest community member, Summit Paper Tube, to Andrews, S.C. The company’s $1.68 million investment will create 19 new jobs in the Andrews, S.C. community.
PolyQuest expanded their distribution footprint by acquiring Baker Transportation in Williamsburg County. This acquisition will create 25 new jobs in the Cades, S.C. community.
Williamsburg County announced the completion of its 52,000 square foot speculative building in the Williamsburg Cooperative Commerce Centre South, located on U.S. Highway 52 in Kingstree, S.C. The speculative building is available for industrial use and can be fitted to meet the specific requirements of a buyer or lessee.
Finally, the Williamsburg County Economic Development team thanks their former economic developer, Gilleon Frieson, for his dedication and hard work making 2023 a successful year. Frieson is pursuing a new opportunity with the Department of Commerce.
2024 expectations:
The Williamsburg County Economic Development Board looks forward to continuing the success of the previous years and expanding on new opportunities. The Board will continue fostering constructive relationships with local industry and leaders. The Board will also begin the search for a new economic director.

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