For the past year, all of us have had to adjust our lives to deal with the global pandemic. The same holds true for our local industries. Not only did Sumter’s industries determine solutions to continue to produce high quality goods, but in some instances, pivoted their operations to manufacture essential supplies related to the battle against Covid 19.
The economic uncertainty that accompanied the pandemic caused some of our local industries to briefly slow production. Despite the economic hesitation, three of our local industrial leaders – SKF, Santa Cruz Nutritionals and Nova Molecular Technologies all announced operation expansions creating just shy of 200 new jobs and more than $113 million in new investment right HERE in Sumter. These expansions speak volumes about the success they’ve had – right HERE.
Manufacturing careers make up 17% of all the jobs in Sumter. Our industries have taken extraordinary steps to ensure that their employees are safe on the job and that their workplaces minimize the risk of Covid exposure. These additional measures come as no surprise and reflect the value that our industries place on their employees.
More than 70 industrial giants make up our manufacturing landscape and ensure that high quality products made in Sumter are delivered all around the world. Careers in manufacturing pay well and require a variety of skill sets for which training opportunities are available locally. Our local industries offer diverse employment opportunities with robust benefits and growth potential. From Human resources and information technology to engineering and operations, all departments played a vital role in the pandemic response just as they do daily.
Being nimble and responsive are dynamic features that help to make Sumter stand out when competing for operational expansion and new industry. Our quality of life, as showcased in the acronym HERE, focuses on not only our Employment offerings, but also our Healthcare, Education and Recreation that are unique to the region. It all combines to make Sumter a dynamic place to call home.
As 2021 gets underway, we look toward what’s next for our country and our community. The compassion and perseverance demonstrated by our industries during the pandemic clearly shows not only concern for the bottom line, but also consideration for the health and well-being of employees. Yes, we’re not only making it right HERE – We’ve got it MADE – HERE!
The introduction of the Regional Economic Development Headquarters was the dawning of a new era for development in Sumter. Not does it symbolize progress but it is also a reminder of the trajectory of our community-building efforts as partners, allies, and business prospects darken its doors.
The building through its layout and functionality has allowed Development Board to enhance its engagement in economic development activities. Our ability to host strategic investment partners and discuss opportunities for community and regional investment and reinvestment has been the centerpiece of the buildings’ design. It truly is a showcase asset that enlightens those who have entered and lends its view of downtown’s resurgence, and the area’s growth. It will play a central role in the Sumter region’s improved prosperity for decades to come.
Given the digital age we live in, you may see drones regularly flying around Sumter in three to four years, and the licensed pilot of that drone could be a current ninth-grader at Crestwood High School.
That is the premise of a new curriculum – Drone Innovation Technologies – that started last month for high school freshmen at Crestwood and also describes what was on display Wednesday outside at the Oswego Road school.
To boost its STEM curriculum, Crestwood implemented a four-course drone certification program this semester, and 19 ninth-graders are taking part in the first class, or cohort, and leading the way on the new journey. STEM is an educational curriculum focused on the integration of science, technology, engineering and math.
The certified drone program is the first in Sumter School District and could expand in classes and also to other high schools in the future, according to school instructional staff.
The program falls under a multi-year federal grant program called GEAR UP that the local district qualifies for, and a Columbia-based drone training and services firm, AI Nautics, organizes and administers the curriculum.
The initial 16-week course, Introduction to Drones, meets for a one-hour class each week at the school. Wednesday was the students’ first day outside to practice flying the drones.
According to company co-founder Chris Williams, AI Nautics started drone programs in South Carolina schools in 2018 and to date has worked in 10 school districts and also at some colleges, including Sumter-based Morris College.
Sheila South is a new GEAR UP program college support specialist at Crestwood and previously worked as Morris’ director of career services and was there when AI Nautics administered a summer program on the campus, she said.
When she arrived at Crestwood, South began brainstorming new STEM opportunities for the high schoolers and remembered AI Nautics’ drone training program.
She connected fellow Crestwood GEAR UP program specialist Essie Sellers with Williams and the firm, “and the rest is history,” she said.
If teenage students stick with the program, by the end of 10th grade – at the age of 16 – they can take an exam to become a Federal Aviation Administration-certified drone pilot, according to AI Nautics and South.
The summer following their junior year, students can qualify for a paid internship with the firm and start getting experience and flying time with drones. As a senior, students would continue to get flying time experience in the program, South said.
After graduation, students could be considered highly qualified and certified pilots with a world of opportunities available to them.
Core drone skills in taking photographs and video are currently used in numerous business sectors to include public safety with search and rescue, business warehouse inventory control, cinematography, agriculture, real estate and insurance, among others, Williams said. And drones are expected to continue to grow in use in many ways, given artificial intelligence and data proliferation in today’s world.
Sumter School District Superintendent Penelope Martin-Knox agreed the program is good preparation for college, a career or a role in the military, noting the U.S. Air Force’s MQ-9 Reaper enterprise that has a home at Shaw Air Force Base.
As drone use expands, there is obviously the need for more qualified and licensed pilots, Williams said, as well as programmers, maintenance and support, technical writers and other positions.
With about 14 years of experience in K-12 education, South said Crestwood’s drone certification program is all about career awareness for the modern-day and future workforce, which will have global opportunities.
“Our industry and this world is going toward STEM,” she said. “So, we have to prepare our students for the change that society is going toward. It’s our job to prepare our students for the future, and what better ways than through our STEM programs?”
South added that drones are a relatively new concept and tool, and students buy into new trends.
Crestwood freshman Khalil Moody is a student in the new drone certification program and said he enrolled in the course to expand his future opportunities. He said he has always been into electronics and gadgets and did get a toy drone for his birthday when he turned 10.
Moody said he got excited when he learned he could become a licensed pilot at 16 and added that he enjoyed Wednesday’s flying time.
“It’s nice to be so young,” he said, “and have so many opportunities.”
Credit: The Sumter Item
SUMTER, S.C., March 5, 2021 — After extended negotiations starting in 2016, The Sumter Economic Development team announced BD’s major expansion project July 6, 2018. Through this expansion, BD committed to investing $150 million and creating 125 new jobs.
BD has been busy since, even in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first phase of the project is nearing completion, which entails a new visitor’s entrance, new employee and truck parking lots, millions of dollars’ worth of new state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, and upgrades to the existing facility. Phase two is now beginning, which will add production and warehousing space and more high-tech manufacturing equipment enabling continued growth to meet the demands of the medical devices needed throughout the world. This continued growth is expected to surpass the announced capital investment and job creation.
Launching operations in Sumter County in 1970, BD has been in Sumter for 51 years. With production facilities in over 25 countries across the globe and employing more than 75,000 associates world-wide, the BD Sumter site is one of the company’s largest facilities in their network.
The Sumter community is grateful for BD’s confidence in our leadership, talent, infrastructure, and pro-business environment. We celebrate BD’s successes and look forward to continuing our solid partnership for years to come.
BD is actively hiring for more than 100 new positions, which all offer excellent pay and benefits. Interested applicants can apply by visiting www.BD.com/Careers.
SUMTER, S.C., March 1, 2021 — Through the combined efforts of TheLINK Economic Development Alliance, Sumter Economic Development, The City of Sumter, Sumter County, Continental Tire, Thompson Turner Construction, and the South Carolina Department of Commerce, King Machine plans to invest $2.6 million and create 30 new jobs over the next several years. King Machine will occupy the newly constructed Sumter speculative building.
Founded in 1951, King Machine is a leading provider and manufacturer of new tire molds and tire components for the original equipment and replacement markets. The company also provides mold services, warehousing, repair, and refurbishment as well as consultative technical services to support tire operations. Launching operations in Sumter, SC in February 2014, focused on providing support for Continental Tire, King Machine has been growing their business model and successes since.
Located at 1160 North Wise Drive Sumter, SC in the Black River Industrial Park, the custom finished 50,000 Sq. Ft. Sumter’s speculative building will provide King Machine the needed space to expand their service capabilities.
The expansion is expected to be completed by 2024. Individuals interested in joining the King Machine team should visit the company’s careers webpage.
“King Machine is excited to continue growing in Sumter, SC. The support received from the Sumter community and Continental Tire, along with the support and expertise provided by Thompson Turner Construction has solidified our decision to continue investing and creating jobs in Sumter, SC”. – King Machine CEO Mike Wells
“South Carolina is a global leader in the tire industry, and it’s great to see that trend continue with this expansion by King Machine. These new jobs will make a positive impact within the Sumter community, and we look forward to seeing them grow and succeed in our state.” -Gov. Henry McMaster
“We’re always excited to see an existing company grow its presence in our state. Congratulations to King Machine on this latest expansion and the creation of 30 new jobs in Sumter County.” -Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt
“The expansion of King Machine in Sumter County speaks volumes not only about the growth trajectory of the company, but also the support and leadership that we have here. Our goal is to surround businesses with valued stakeholders and a qualified workforce as a foundation for operational excellence. “-Chairman, Sumter County Council James T. McCain Jr.
“We are quite pleased to learn of the growth and expansion of King Machine in Sumter and look forward to continuing our long-standing relationship. The jobs and investment that accompany this expansion further cements Sumter as a great place to live, work and do business.” –Sumter Mayor David Merchant
“Indeed, we are delighted that King Machine chose us for their expansion. Choosing Sumter guarantees a dedicated team of enthusiasts that consistently assess and explore new ways of unearthing the very best talent and leading-edge methods to keep businesses out front and our community growing.” –Chairman, Sumter Development Board Greg A. Thompson
“This region is positioned for greatness as evidenced by the recent announcement of the expansion of King Machine in Sumter. We work diligently to provide industries the necessary backing to realize our fullest potential and their ultimate success.” – Chairman, TheLINK Economic Development Alliance Gordon Eckley
5 Fast Facts about King Machine:
- King Machine is expanding operations in Sumter County.
- The more than $2.6 million investment will create 30 new jobs.
- King Machine is a tire mold manufacturer.
- Located in the Black River Industrial Park in Sumter, S.C.
- Individuals interested in joining the King Machine team should visit the company’s careers webpage.