GREENWOOD COUNTY: Fujifilm
Jul 03, 2017 02:04PM
● By Makayla Gay
By Vincent Harris
Since opening their manufacturing plant in 1989, Fujifilm has been a vital part of Greenwood County’s economic landscape. Employing slightly fewer than 1,000 people on a 500-acre campus, the massive multiple facilities produces QuickSnap recyclable cameras, inkjet photographic paper, color photographic paper, and digital printing plates for the graphic arts industry. The Fujifilm USA Manufacturing plant alone, the centerpiece of the facility that’s been open for more than 25 years, employs 600 workers in four-shift rotations.
That’s a gigantic economic footprint, particularly in a county with a total population of fewer than 70,000 people, according to the most recent available statistics from 2014. And the relationship between the company and Greenwood is a partnership at its core. On Fujifilm’s website, there’s a section titled “Why Greenwood?” that explains what the company saw in the city more than two decades ago.
“Quite often we are asked, ‘Why South Carolina?’” the site reads, “but once people actually visit our complex, and experience the beauty and friendliness of Greenwood, South Carolina, they understand. Greenwood and the State of South Carolina offered the winning combination of available property, abundant clean water in the form of Lake Greenwood, incentives to develop the infrastructure in terms of roadways, water, sewer, natural gas, and electricity, and a state technical education system that we could utilize to train our workforce.”
That brief description is actually helpful when one considers the other ways that Fujifilm involves itself in Greenwood and the surrounding area. In fact, the company’s dedication to community involvement underwent a transformation a few years ago, moving from what Fujifilm Greenwood’s senior public relations specialist Lisa Emily calls a “checkbook approach,” in which the company determined what worthy causes to donate to and wrote a check, to a more strategic plan that targets specific areas.
“Several years ago, we divided our philanthropies into five different areas,” Emily says. We focused on women’s issues, minority issues, education, environment and then what we call community relations.”
Community relations and women’s issues are where the vast majority of Fujifilm’s charitable efforts are focused. They’ve sponsored the Greenwood Relay For Life for the last three years, a walkathon-based event designed to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Fujifilm also runs a yearly campaign to raise money for the United Way.
The women’s issues branch features an interesting twist on the typical charity-business relationship. Rather than directly donating to different charities, Fujifilm instead acts as a sponsor for the LPGA-related Symetra Series, a developmental series for professional and amateur female golfers.
“(Greenwood golf course) The Links At Stoneypoint acts as a host for a Symetra Series tournament,” Emily says, “and we’re a major sponsor. The series donates large sums each year for women’s issues and entities.”
Last fiscal year, Fujifilm also made a donation to the Pathway House in Greenwood, a shelter for homeless women that is connected to the United Way.
Education is the field that Fujifilm has directed resources towards the longest.
“I’ve been here 20-something years,” Emily says, “and when I first started we were providing $2,000 scholarships for Clemson, USC and Lander, along with four $1000 scholarships for Piedmont Tech. In the past couple of years we’ve transitioned from targeting high school students who indicated an interest in science and technology to trying to strategically funnel our money towards encouraging people to pursue educational opportunities that lead to manufacturing occupations.”
Emily says the change has come because even though those who receive the scholarships aren’t beholden to Fujifilm in any way, the company has seen its manufacturing workforce needs expand more than their science and technology requirements, so they’re hoping to steer more students in their direction.
Fujifilm’s work in the environmental field comes through donations to Upstate Forever, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting critical lands and waters across Upstate South Carolina. The Fujifilm campus is also a certified Wildlife & Industry Together site, meaning that the S.C. Wildlife Federation has designated land on the campus to be developed by the company, volunteers and community groups into a natural habitat.
“The environment has been one of our top three focus areas since I’ve been here,” Emily says. “Fujifilm globally has a really strong commitment to the protection and preservation of the environment and our natural resources; it’s always it’s been a focus of ours.”
The company’s work under the minority outreach umbrella comes in its partnership with the Greenwood Career Center, the Urban League and the Greenwood YMCA.
“We just recently began working with the Urban League of the Upstate to develop a presence in the Greenwood Career center to support workshops for ACT classes and SAT classes,” Emily says. “We also support the YMCA’s High Hopes tutorial program.”
Regardless of what charities or organizations Fujifilm becomes involved with, Emily says that the focus for their Greenwood location is almost always on their own community. “There’s a very conscious effort on our part to keep Greenwood and the surrounding areas in the forefront of our efforts,” she says. “All of these programs are very Greenwood-specific.”