I was in Camden, SC (population 6,682) for the groundbreaking of our first spec building in six years. We have built six spec buildings over the years and have had great success with our programs until the downturn of 2001. Too many empty buildings became available and the demand for new spec buildings declined.
We weren’t necessarily looking to build new spec space as the demand for our existing space and new build-to-suit projects has our development team at Agracel on the go a great deal. However, several compelling factors motivated us to partner with the local Kershaw County Economic Development Office, the local utility company Progress Energy and a local engineering company.
South Carolina has impressed our team with their very progressive approach to economic development and Camden is a charming town with great potential. The town has had their previous two spec buildings snapped up by German filter manufacturer Hengst USA and Forgitron, an Ohio-based maker of aluminum wheels, both in 2005. It was time to build a new one, a 75,000 sf building that is expandable to twice its size.
Nelson Lindsay, head of the local EDC, told me of recruiting in Haier America, the giant Chinese appliance manufacturer. “They were looking at moving their U. S. production to either Greenwich, CT or Orlando, FL. We got in the mix when one of the Americans on the project, mentioned to us that they were looking. We got Camden in the mix and the Chinese quickly realized that it made a lot more sense to locate here.”
We are right across the street from Haier America’s USA headquarters and hope to use our new building to bring another international company into Camden.