Upstate projects impacted by tariffs, trade wars


SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Economic leaders said new numbers show industrial investment in Spartanburg County is much lower than years past.                

Still, 10 new projects with over $100 million in new investments have been proposed in Spartanburg County.

The largest one involves an existing company that’s expanding by investing over $46 million and bringing over 30 new jobs.

The reason for the overall down tick, according to Spartanburg County Councilman David Britt, is business leaders who are uncertain with tariffs and the lack of trade agreements being reached between the U.S. and other countries..

Britt told 7 News many companies are, in fact, holding back and waiting to see what happens with President Trump’s tariffs and a trade agreement that hasn’t been reached between the U.S. and China.

He said that’s very easy to see in the numbers and on the ground in Spartanburg County.

With roughly two months to go in 2019, year to date total industrial investment in Spartanburg County is around $315 million dollars, according to county officials.

That’s an amount that puts the county at the top statewide.

Britt said that means companies that are investing are digging “their roots in just a little bit deeper in Spartanburg County.”

But, deeper roots don’t necessarily translate into new jobs.

Britt compared the numbers to the last three years.

“Compared to where we were in ’16, ’17, ’18 our investment we averaged close to a billion dollars invested,” he said.

$1 billion dollars invested in all three years which Britt said translated into close to two thousand new jobs each year.

“$315 million dollars invested in Spartanburg County in 10 months. A couple hundred jobs compared to two thousand. I mean it has had a devastating effect on our growth,” said Britt.

The “it” Britt speaks of is tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and there’s another factor.

“This uncertainty with the tariffs and the lack of trade agreements getting made have caused people to pull back,” he said. “It’s very very easy to see. It’s demonstrated right here in Spartanburg County.”

One sign he points to is at Smith Farms at Highway 101 and Reidville Road where not only one spec building sits empty but two. All of the delivery bays sit empty. That’s nearly 6 million acres of industrial space. waiting on occupants.

“The proof is in the pudding,” said Britt.

While Britt touts successes like fiber optics company AFL Telecommunications of Duncan investing over $15 million dollars in it’s operation and Exeter Victor Hill Land of Duncan which is an existing $35 million project close to BMW he said he still needs to be realistic about the numbers.

“That effect from the tariffs and the uncertainty with trade has had a dramatic and devastating effect on our growth and you know. I’ve got to tell the truth,” he said.

Britt said the proof can also be seen at BMW.

The company hasn’t announced an investment since before January 2017 and when the company is not making investments, which is a company that’s made over $10 billion in investments over the last 25 years, Britt said the ripple effect is easy to see.             

What’s being done?

Britt said he continues to write letters to the president and speak with Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott and other members of the South Carolina delegation in Washington to get them to push the White House to strike trade deals with countries like China and Canada.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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