Sunday, Sept. 30, 2007
Dee manufacturing center is employment gem
SEPT. 30, 2007 - - For the Pee Dee, a region sometimes looked
down upon by the big economies of Charleston, Greenville and
Columbia, a just-opened manufacturing technology center may
be its jobs manna from heaven.
With much fanfare, the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing
and Technology (SIMT) opened this week at Florence-Darlington
Technical College with officials showcasing robotic assembly
tools and 3-D virtual reality training resources in the 177,000
square foot, multi-purpose facility built in just 16 months.
Rep. Jim Clyburn uses hand movements to manipulates
a 3D computer interface at the Southeastern Institute
of Manufacturing and Technology. Florence-Darlington
Technical College President Charles Gould is at left.
And while the Institute has a bunch of gizmos that look neat
on TV, these tools are the Pee Dee's ticket to reinvigorating
manufacturing jobs in the region, says Florence-Darlington
Tech President Charles Gould.
"The potential is jobs," Gould said. "If we
don't have this kind of support center, we're not going to
be able to attract jobs."
And then he says something more interesting, particularly
in an area in which every county has a jobless rate that's
higher than the state's already high 5.6 percent: "If
this thing develops the way we think it is, in the next five
years, we will not have an unemployment issue here,"
Joe W. King, head of the Florence County Economic Development
Partnership now located in the SIMT facility, is equally enthusiastic.
"This facility is going to change the landscape of eastern
South Carolina more than any other thing," he said. "The
SIMT will provide opportunities for the workforce to acquire
the skills that manufactures desire to compete in a global
economy. If companies are confident a community or region
has a workforce with the skills that will make their operation
successful and competitive, they are much more inclined to
locate there. Having said that, yes, it (SIMT) will be the
catalyst that decreases the region's unemployment figures."
Pretty strong talk. But, as Gould points out, global manufacturers
are becoming frustrated with some outsourcing opportunities.
If manufacturing were merely assembly, China would have it
all. But manufacturing includes research, development, rapid
prototyping, training skilled workers, using high-tech equipment
and more. In China, Gould notes, manufacturers are having
problems with consistency of assembly - - something also that
doesn't occur here.
"As manufacturers compete in a global economy, two key
components to their future success are the availability of
a skilled workforce and the ability to capitalize on technologies
that will help their business improve quality, productivity
and profitability," King adds. "The sole focus of
the SIMT is to address these two critical issues, and it is
one of only a handful of facilities in the world with the
capabilities to do so.
"The customized training programs in a variety of manufacturing
areas and the ability to assist companies in developing advanced
manufacturing processes will benefit not only the companies
utilizing SIMT, but the people who live and work in the region."
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So, there's a real opportunity in the Pee Dee for the SIMT
to provide a panoply of tools for manufacturers to use to
develop their wares in an environment that provides more security
for their investment than some foreign countries. Development
officials are also hoping that once they're impressed with
the work ethic and quality at the Institute, they'll stick
around and locate a facility nearby.
"We're never going to be a Charleston, Greenville or
Columbia," Gould notes. "They all have their own
business environments. What we're trying to do here is create
a different environment.
"We present a different package as an economic development
carrot. This is a different twist on it."
Andy Brack, publisher of Statehouse Report,
can be reached at: email@example.com.
Old Sheldon Church
was beautiful building
live oak trees shade the quiet burial ground that surrounds
the ruined Sheldon Church of Prince William's Parish. Its
molded brick columns support a nonexistent portico and continue
between arched openings along the side walls to lend a sense
of enclosure to the unroofed building. Even in ruins, Sheldon
Church symbolizes Beaufort County's prosperity during South
Carolina's early years as a royal colony. Sophisticated in
its architecture and craftsmanship, this isolated brick edifice
was among the first examples of the temple design in the English-speaking
of the old Sheldon Church.
In the 1730s, influential planters began moving to the former
Indian lands, bringing their slaves and creating wealth, and
in 1745, the Commons House of Assembly established Prince
William's Parish. No longer was it necessary to travel to
St. Helena's Parish for worship or voting. So that a church
could be built, Elizabeth Bellinger donated a 50-acre tract
of Tomotley Barony, next to William Bull's Sheldon Plantation.
Construction was funded largely by the Bulls, supplemented
by legislative appropriations. The result, completed in 1757,
was "esteem'd a more beautiful Building than St. Philip's.
It is far more elegant than St. Michael's.
Statehouse Report has partnered with USC
Press to provide readers with an interesting weekly
historical excerpt about the state. Each excerpt, which
is used with permission and not for republication, is
taken from The
South Carolina Encyclopedia, a 1,077-page book
published in 2006 with entries by almost 600 contributors
and edited by noted historian Walter Edgar. We hope
you enjoy this new feature.
This emblem of English political and religious organization
was burned in 1779 by a band of Beaufort Tories. Not until
1825 did commissioners advertise for estimates "to cover
the Ruins of the Sheldon Church ... with a plain strong wooded
Roof, putting Doors, Windows, Benches, and a Floor to do the
same." The rebuilt church was consecrated in 1826, but
in 1865 both the church and its summer chapel in McPhersonville
were burned. A replacement chapel was constructed in 1898.
Sheldon Church has never been rebuilt. It was listed in the
National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
-- Entry by Sarah Fick, The
South Carolina Encyclopedia
from the past
Another great cartoon by Bill McLemore:
needs affordable medical help, birth control, Roxanne
Walker, Greenville, SC
good points in sex ed column, Anne Badgley, Charleston,
insurance companies want to cancel policies, Dan
Norfleet, Summerville, SC
is tip of iceberg, John P. Ford, Sumter, S.C.
have grown apathetic, David Whetsell, Lexington,
has enterprising spirit, Sandra
Plock, Sumter, SC
violence laws may be used wrongly, Marty Hicks,
Mount Pleasant, SC
is inconsistent, Bill Rentiers III, Lexington,
Edisto would be boon to ACE Basin, Maggie Ridge,
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