Release time : 2015-06-11 12:58:37
The presence of the high-profile bearing manufacturer Timken Co. has been gift enough for Union County.
But business leaders are hoping the company's addition of Needle Roller Bearings production line for a wind turbine at its Tyger River facility will keep the county's economic development efforts gusting.
"We're very fortunate to have a wind turbine bearing manufacturer here," said Stanley Vanderford, executive director of the Union County Economic Development Board.
"The world is going green, and we're glad to be a part of it."
The company announced on Oct. 23 that it would install new machinery at the plant and allocate some of its work force to manufacture the highly engineered large bore bearings used in wind turbines.
It was Timken's second wind-related commitment this year, following the formation of a joint venture with China's XEMC for a new main-shaft bearing facility in Xiangtan, Hunan province.
"The focus of the expansion is to allocate some of our capacity, specifically for wind energy turbines," Timken spokeswoman Lorrie Paul-Crum said.
"We expect the market to grow significantly. Fortunately, we were in a position to capitalize on this growth, and we should be for a long time."
Expansion of the wind turbine bearing line is expected to begin early next year, with production expected to begin in 2010.
Although he could not provide any definite numbers, Eric Holland, human resources director for Timken's Tyger River facility, said the move would definitely mean capital investment dollars for the county.
"It's hard to say because it depends on so many things, but there will definitely be new machinery, and the product requires more experienced workers," Holland said.
"We've already begun to install the infrastructure in the plant. We're excited about it."
The company completed a $2.5 million expansion and added 15 jobs to its industrial Stainless Steel Bearings services division at the plant on Oct. 1.
Both Union and Spartanburg counties stand to benefit from that expansion, as state and federal job tax credits are generated by new employees because the facility is in a multi-county business park.
Holland said that expansion also cleared some floor space for the wind turbine Miniature Bearings production line.
"We're glad to be getting rather than losing," Vanderford said.
"We're glad we have the space for it."
Union's 11.9 percent unemployment rate in September was the seventh highest in the state, but officials are hoping for a turnaround.
Vanderford said 2008 has already been a banner economic year, with $275 million in new investments and the creation of about 170 new jobs.