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Ready to take off?
By CHRIS TRAINOR
, Special to the Index-Journal
Saturday, October 12, 2013 8:00 PM
People of Greenwood, can you feel it? I know I can.
We're buckled up, bags tucked away in the overhead bin, iPod buds in our ears. The flight attendant has given her instructions, the captain has given a report about the weather and we can feel the jet engines rumbling around us.
Hold on tight folks, because Greenwood is getting ready to take off.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you likely heard the good news: Colgate-Palmolive, a worldwide leader in personal care products, is set to establish a manufacturing facility in Greenwood County. The company will occupy the 520,000-square-foot former Guardian building on U.S. 25.
The first phase of the project will encompass a $196 million capital investment from Colgate-Palmolive and will create 300 new jobs. Officials with public-private economic development firm Partnership Alliance have indicated it is the largest phase 1 investment in the history of Greenwood County.
The county has been waiting on this type of manufacturing announcement for quite some time. This isn't some startup company or fly-by-night operation. We're talking about Colgate-Palmolive.
Put down your newspaper or tablet device for a moment. Take a look in your bathroom and cabinets and drawers. I bet you have a product in your house, right now, made by Colgate-Palmolive.
It took numerous ingredients to make the stew that was the Colgate-Palmolive announcement.
We had the right building in place, with the facility on U.S. 25. Partnership Alliance pulled out all the stops on its end. Greenwood County Council approved the various governmental and incentive agreements. Greenwood CPW had talks with the company and made assurances it could handle the plant's water and natural gas needs.
Obviously, it was a collaborative effort.
It was at least somewhat reminiscent of the monumental collaboration 25 years ago that helped make Fujifilm a reality.
It is interesting, just five days prior to Colgate making its big announcement, Fujifilm had a major celebration marking its quarter century as a part of Greenwood County's business landscape. The company put on a gala event at the Federal Building, complete with speeches by Gov. Nikki Haley and Fujifilm Holdings Corp. president and chief operating officer Shigehiro Nakajima.
Part of the message during Fujifilm's anniversary bash was an assurance the company remains committed to Greenwood. As a nod to its desire for a lasting relationship with the people of Greenwood County, the company made a $100,000 donation toward the creation of the Grace Street Park.
So, in the span of less than a week, one internationally known company celebrated nearly three decades of success in Greenwood, while another internationally known company announced its aggressive plans to establish business here.
Even the most hardened cynics - and we have plenty of them around here, particularly in the indexjournal.com comments section, which I affectionately refer to as the Viper Pit - would have to agree this was good news.
IF YOU'VE HAD YOUR EYES OPEN in the last year or so, you know Greenwood - recession be damned - is a town on the move.
Sure, we've got our issues. No doubt. Crime, drugs, poverty. We're not out of the woods on any of it.
But take a glance around. We're growing in so many ways.
Retail, all things considered, is exploding here. The shopping center which contains Kohl's, Ross, PetSmart and others has opened within the last year. The Greenwood Mall has done major renovations and added national retailers - including T.J. Maxx and Michael's - within the last two years.
In late September, ground was broken on what will be the Publix Pavilion shopping center at the corner of Bypass 72 and Mathis Road. The centerpiece of that development will, of course, be a Publix grocery store.
And there are other commercial sites under construction as we speak. Seriously, there is dirt moving all across this town.
Moving away from retail, look at some of the other developments in Greenwood in the last year or so.
Lander University's Jeff May Complex, which is just off Montague Avenue, right in the city center, is a jewel. An absolute jewel. It is legitimately one of the top NCAA Division II sports complexes in the United States of America. You really need to get out there and see a baseball or softball game, or a soccer or tennis match.
Earlier this year, Clemson University announced it will be establishing a 17,000-square-foot research and education center in human genetics in Greenwood. The Clemson facility will be constructed adjacent to the Greenwood Genetic Center on the J.C. Self Research Institute Campus.
The $6.5 million facility will be dedicated to human and agricultural genetic and epigenetic research, and will contain eight laboratories and offices to accommodate more than 40 researchers, technicians and doctoral students, including one Clemson program chair and an endowed chair in the field of genetics.
Make no mistake, the Clemson-Genetic Center project will increase our city's intellectual capital and will have ripple effects that will be felt here for decades.
I haven't even touched on Uptown Greenwood, but I think most of you are well aware of the money and resources the city has poured into that area. Drive through there late on a Thursday night and see the crowds at Buffalo Grill, T.W. Boons Upstairs, Howard's and the Mill House, and you will see all that work is starting to pay off, too.
While I know there are some people in Greenwood who would trade everything I've mentioned here for a Target and an Olive Garden (seriously folks, give it a rest about an Olive Garden), just know this: Some serious headway has been made here in the last two years. City, county, economic development and business leaders are laying the groundwork.
We're getting ready to fly.
Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-5650; email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.
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