2,843 new jobs, $85M in investment

In its first full year as a county department, Lancaster County’s Economic Development team delivered a banner year of growth. Under the leadership of Jamie Gilbert, the county created 2,843 new jobs, the most ever in a 12-month period.
Since Gilbert was hired in July 2016, the LCED brought nearly 3,000 jobs to the county – one new job for every 13 eligible workers. New investment pumped $85 million into the economy – nearly $1,000 for each county resident.
Gilbert, a 25-year-veteran of economic development, had outstanding credentials and experience, but according to Lancaster County Council members involved in the hiring process, his people skills, high energy and enthusiasm sealed the deal.
Gilbert said he couldn’t be more appreciative of the opportunity the council gave him to lead Lancaster County’s economic development efforts. He said this first year provided confirmation that coming here was the right decision.
“I always felt in my heart that coming to Lancaster County was meant to be. I had a great feeling about our community from the first time I visited and it has never left,” Gilbert said.
“We have an outstanding economic development team, county council and partners that understand our mission and enthusiastically support it. There are a lot of folks that deserve thanks for helping to make this first year such a success for us. We are truly blessed.”
John Hunter, an economic development attorney with Womble Carlyle, which represents many high-profile projects in the Charlotte region, worked with Gilbert on the CompuCom, Movement Mortgage, PCI Group and Simpson Electric projects.
“The Lancaster County Department of Economic Development has quickly established itself as a dependable and effective group. Jamie Gilbert’s professionalism, work ethic and deal-structuring ability is stellar,” Hunter said. “My clients and I have really enjoyed working with him and his team.”
Gilbert’s team includes John McCain, existing industry manager, and Amanda Thompson, administrative assistant.
Since Gilbert was hired, LCED announced seven new and expanding businesses, including Central Wire, PCI Group, CompuCom Systems, Movement Mortgage, Springs Global, Unique Loom and Simpson Electric Co.
Last November, Central Wire Inc. announced a $2 million expansion creating 18 new jobs at its Riverside Road plant. This latest expansion will quadruple the number of employees since it moved here in 1999.
PCI Group was one of the companies LCED assisted with expansion and rezoning issues.
“Jamie Gilbert and his team were instrumental in helping PCI Group through the rezoning process for our property in Indian Land,” said Skip Pawul, PCI’s executive vice president. “Jamie also worked on our behalf to secure special source revenue credits and an extension to our current FILOT (fee-in-lieu-of-taxes) agreement, which will greatly assist our growing operation. He understands that working with existing industry is equally as important as attracting new companies. Jamie is truly an asset to the county.”
CompuCom Systems announced it was moving its headquarters from Texas to the Panhandle last November, bringing a $41 million capital investment and 1,500 jobs to the area. This was not only the largest project for the county last year, but also for the Carolinas. The deal ranked fourth in the entire Southeast.
“When a company like CompuCom decides to build its global headquarters and create 1,500 new jobs here, it sends a message to the entire world that South Carolina is open for business,” former Gov. Nikki Haley said.
Just six weeks later, Movement Mortgage announced an additional $18 million investment, creating 700 new jobs within five years to double its current size.
Springs Global USA Inc., formed by the merger of Springs Industries and Coteminas, brought 30 news jobs to Lancaster earlier this year. The company is located in the former Grace Logistics Center on Grace Avenue.
“We are happy to be back in South Carolina and Lancaster County,” said Alan McManus, senior vice president and treasurer of Springs Global US. “This is a positive thing for Springs.”
In May, Fort Mill-based Unique Loom announced it would be expanding its operations to Indian Land, creating 245 new jobs there over the next four years, and moving an additional 90 positions from Fort Mill.
Last month, Simpson Electric, a family-owned electrical wiring company, announced it was moving to Indian Land from Charlotte, with hopes of expanding its workforce. The move should be completed in early 2018.
Gilbert and his team created print and electronic media with a tagline and logo touting Lancaster County as a place  “Where Business is Golden.” The new brochure promotes business opportunities in the county and the new website, www.lcded.com, features brief videos profiling local businesses. They also established a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.
As the Panhandle became the IT corner, Gilbert embraced the county’s manufacturing heritage and made the Springs Global redevelopment site and Duracell building top priorities for reuse.
Looking forward, Gilbert hopes to enhance the county’s marketing effort.
“I’m very excited about the future for Lancaster County,” he said. “We have a number of opportunities and challenges that we will address, in particular, more product development and becoming more proactive in business recruitment.”

By Mandy Catoe, Staff Reporter with The Lancaster News