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Greenville Business Magazine

Anderson’s Manufacturing History Rooted in Textiles

Jun 14, 2023 12:12PM ● By John C. Stevenson

Attracting industries to Anderson County is nothing new; the county can trace its manufacturing roots back to the era when textiles were king in the Upstate. It has given Anderson’s residents a rich history and deserved reputation as loyal and hard workers, according to many.

“When it began, it was textiles,” notes Rusty Burns, Anderson County administrator. “Owens Corning opened in 1952, and it was the first non-textile manufacturing. When Owens Corning closed, we started getting really aggressive.”

One way the county worked to draw in desperately needed industries was to adopt what was then a novel way of enticing businesses to relocate, which is to charge a new business a fee rather than taxing it. According to the state Department of Revenue, “industries that invest at least $2.5 million in South Carolina may negotiate for a fee-in-lieu of property taxes,” which “can result in a savings of about 40 percent on property taxes otherwise due for a project.”

Burns says Anderson County became the first municipality in South Carolina to use a fee-in-lieu agreement, when it successfully used the arrangement to lure Michelin into building its Sandy Springs plant in the Southern part of the county. That facility is now one of several Michelin operations in Anderson County, Burns says.

In addition to successfully using fee-in-lieu offerings, the county has also worked to diversify the types of industries in Anderson County.

“Anderson County was known for textiles. When textiles went overseas, that dried up. When I got out of school, the textiles had been gone,” recalls Brett Sanders, vice chairman of Anderson County Council. “I either had to create a business or move – there were no opportunities here. Now we’ve got a diverse set of industries. We’ve got Bosch, FedEx, Arthrex, Glen Raven – I could go on and on and on. I think other companies look in the area and they see they are successful there.”

Sanders continues: “Our whole mindset as a council is, we’re pro-growth, we’re pro-development, but it’s common-sense growth and development: what fits where and what’s the best fit for it. That’s key as well.”

And with its tradition of textile manufacturing, the area provides a ready workforce with a strong work ethic, according to Burriss Nelson, director of Anderson County Economic Development.

“These folks understand shift work,” Nelson explains. “They have a work ethic that’s ingrained in them through generations of working in the mills. They’re hard workers and loyal.”