No matter what the weather was like, Monday was a sunny day in Greenwood County.
Colgate-Palmolive, one of the world's leading makers of personal care products, formally announced Monday it will be establishing a major manufacturing facility in Greenwood County. The Colgate-Palmolive deal has long been known in economic development circles as Project Sun.
The company will invest $196 million and bring in 300 new jobs in the first phase of the project. According to officials at Greenwood's public/private economic development firm Partnership Alliance, Monday's Colgate announcement is thought to represent the single largest phase one industrial investment in the history of Greenwood County.
Colgate-Palmolive will operate in the former Guardian building, which is at 5421 U.S. 25 North in Hodges. The facility is 520,000 square feet.
Products to be produced at the Greenwood Colgate-Palmolive facility include men's Speed Stick deodorant and Softsoap liquid hand soap. The company will ship deodorant to U.S. and global markets and will ship Softsoap to North American markets.
Partnership Alliance officials indicated work to retrofit the U.S. 25 facility for Colgate-Palmolive's purposes will begin soon. The company is expected to begin accepting applications for positions in March 2014, with hiring being done in partnership with ReadySC.
Partnership Alliance interim CEO Heather Simmons Jones said Greenwood's attractive business climate and the collaborative efforts of numerous individuals in Greenwood County helped make Monday's Colgate announcement possible.
"There were so many factors that the Colgate-Palmolive cited as integral parts of the selection process: a building that met their needs, a skilled workforce and a lower cost of operations," Simmons Jones said. "I would suggest that there is a fourth, and that is the collaboration and cooperative spirit of the leaders and residents in Greenwood County."
When reached by phone Monday morning, Greenwood County Council chairman Mark Allison said he was ecstatic Colgate-Palmolive chose Greenwood County.
The chairman said, since Colgate-Palmolive directed the county about a month ago to release the company's name in association with Project Sun, he has been anxious to learn whether or not the company would select Greenwood for its new facility.
"When you get the news that it is done, it is a relief," Allison said. "We are excited. We look forward to seeing this get off the ground. It is my understanding they are going to start immediately with moving equipment and renovating. (Monday) is an exciting day, there is no doubt about it. I think this is big for Greenwood.
"This is a major industry, a major manufacturer in this country and around the world. To have them here is a privilege."
Officials with knowledge of the project said a Colgate-Palmolive plant in New Jersey will eventually be closed to make way for the new facility in Greenwood.
According to information provided by Partnership Alliance, some factors that weighed into the company's decision to establish operations in Greenwood included the fact the building on U.S. 25 was quite suitable and will help lower overall costs and increase the company's "speed to market scenario." The opportunity for low operating costs also attracted the company.
Allison said South Carolina is beginning to flex its muscles in regard to being competitive in business development.
"I think comes down to South Carolina and Greenwood - the state and the county - are pro-business and pro-growth," Allison said. "We are aggressively going after business. Gov. (Nikki) Haley and her office work so hard to make South Carolina a pro-business state. It comes down to 'Where's the best place to do business?'"
Haley said Colgate-Palmolive and its national profile are welcome in South Carolina's industrial roster.
"Colgate Palmolive is a household name and world-class business, and we are proud to have them join South Carolina's business community," Haley said in a prepared statement. "We celebrate their decision to invest $196 million and create 300 new jobs in Greenwood County."
The Colgate-Palmolive facility in Hodges will be in Greenwood County Councilman Bob Fisher's District 7. Fisher said the company's announcement of its impending arrival is a message that will be well received by county residents.
"This is great news for Greenwood County," Fisher said. "It will bring much needed manufacturing jobs to this area. This is a company with a good reputation and a national profile. We look forward to having them become a member of the Greenwood industrial community."
Fisher said he was particularly pleased Colgate-Palmolive will be able to use a building - a rather large building - that already was available in Greenwood.
Colgate-Palmolive global supply chain vice president Mike Corbo said Greenwood is a great fit for the company.
"We're pleased with the opportunity to locate our new operations in South Carolina," Corbo said in a prepared statement. "Greenwood County had a building that was a perfect fit for our needs, offers us a talented workforce and excellent market access.
"We appreciate all the support we've received from the state Department of Commerce and the South Carolina Coordinating Council for Economic Development, as well the Greenwood Partnership Alliance and Greenwood County."
District 4 state Sen. Billy O'Dell said Colgate-Palmolive is a strong, reputable company that will bring much needed industrial jobs to the county.
The longtime senator said the work of Partnership Alliance was critical in securing the announcement.
"I think it is wonderful for Greenwood County," O'Dell said. "The Partnership has been working hard to bring something into the area. (Colgate-Palmolive) is a Fortune 500 company and this just adds to what (Partnership) has been able to do in bringing great companies to Greenwood. ... I think this says something for South Carolina, as well as Greenwood.
"It indicates to me that we have the educational systems they are looking for. It indicates we have the workforce they are looking for. We've got the environment they are looking for, for their executives.
"And, I think there is more and better to come. We are in the right spot, with South Carolina in general, plus Greenwood. I think we are going to see more things happen."
The talks regarding Colgate-Palmolive - back when it was known as Project Sun - began while Mark Warner was still the CEO of Partnership Alliance. He has since taken a new job in business development with Davis & Floyd. However, he was pleased to learn the project is coming to fruition.
"I'm tickled for the whole community, obviously," Warner said. "Everybody worked really hard on it. All the partners ought to be commended."