Continental Tire Breaks Ground on New Sumter Building

Continental Tire Breaks Ground on New Sumter Building

•Production and management team members celebrate the occasion
• Over 126,000 square feet to be added to existing manufacturing facility

Sumter, SC, August 29, 2022 – Continental Tire broke ground earlier this month in Sumter, South
Carolina on a new building which will add an additional 126,000 square feet to the existing two
million-square-foot tire manufacturing facility. The new expansion area will house additional
production equipment for current production and future capacity needs.
“This new production building is an investment in the future of our Sumter facility, and it exemplifies
the trust Continental has in the dedicated employees at this facility who continue to deliver quality
products to our customers”, said Benny Harmse, Continental plant manager and vice president of

Continental will begin the installation of a new extruder in May 2023 which will be operational by
November 2023. The extruder will support the current production capacity. Approximately 10 new
jobs will be created by 2023 to support tire production.

Continental Tire Sumter plant, South Carolina, a tire manufacturing facility of Continental Tire the
Americas, LLC, produces high-quality, premium lines of passenger and light truck tires for original
equipment and replacement markets. Having a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility with a
growing team of approximately 1,300 employees, the Sumter Plant is IATF 16949:2016 certified,
ISO 14001 certified and a zero-landfill facility.

Continental develops pioneering technologies and services for sustainable and connected mobility of
people and their goods. Founded in 1871, the technology company offers safe, efficient, intelligent and
affordable solutions for vehicles, machines, traffic and transportation. In 2021, Continental generated sales
of €33.8 billion and currently employs more than 190,000 people in 58 countries and markets. On October 8,
2021, the company celebrated its 150th anniversary.

The Tires group sector has 24 production and development locations worldwide. Continental is one of the
leading tire manufacturers with more than 57,000 employees and posted sales of €11.8 billion in 2021 in this
group sector. Continental ranks among the technology leaders in tire production and offers a broad product
range for passenger cars, commercial and special-purpose vehicles as well as two-wheelers. Through
continuous investment in research and development, Continental makes a major contribution to safe, cost
effective and ecologically efficient mobility. The portfolio of the tire business includes services for the tire
trade and fleet applications, as well as digital management systems for tires.

Press contact
Larsen Cline
Communications Specialist
Phone: +1 (803) 506-5478
Email :

HGTC Partnership Secures Internship at Georgia-Pacific

HGTC Partnership Secures Internship at Georgia-Pacific

Horry-Georgetown Technical College (HGTC) is proud to announce that an electronics engineering student has secured a summer internship at Georgia-Pacific, Clarendon. Cameron Feagin has accepted a summer internship position in the Electrical and Instrumentation Department to provide a high-quality work experience prior to his second year in the Electronics Engineering Technology program at HGTC.

“We are very excited to enter this partnership with Georgia-Pacific to provide an opportunity for our students to get real life experiences that support our mission of providing a high-quality, comprehensive, student-centered education and workforce development. We appreciate Georgia-Pacific for their willingness to assist in the professional development of our students,” said Ed McCarthy, HGTC Associate Professor of Electronics Engineering Technology.

The partnership was developed as students in the HGTC Electronics Engineering Technology program are using modern technology in the classroom and gathering the necessary skills to work on the machines of tomorrow.

“This coincides with the new equipment and technology that we have installed at our Georgia-Pacific plant in Clarendon. Cameron will have the opportunity to put the skills and knowledge he has gained in the classroom to work in a modern-day plant where automation has become commonplace,” said Jamey Gowdy, Human Resources Business Partner for Georgia-Pacific, Clarendon.

The tasks Cameron will encounter will provide a solid foundation for his continued learning in the Electrical Engineering Technician Program at HGTC.

“I am grateful to HGTC and Georgia-Pacific for offering me this internship position and experience. I would also like to thank Professor McCarthy for believing in me as this internship will allow for other opportunities and experiences in the future,” said Cameron Feagin, HGTC Electronics Engineering Student, Summer Intern at Georgia-Pacific.

“We hope that Cameron is the first of many students to benefit from this partnership as we strive to provide a highly-trained workforce that meets the growing needs of our region’s high-tech industries,” continued McCarthy.



Adam Howard, a recent graduate from Sumter High School and first-year student in Central Carolina Technical College’s mechatronics program has accepted a summer internship at Georgia-Pacific in Clarendon.

“The partnership with CCTC was established as students in the mechatronics program are working with so many power systems in the classroom and are gathering the necessary skills to work on the machines in use at Georgia-Pacific,” says Jamey Gowdy, human resources business partner. “Adam Howard accepted a summer internship in our Maintenance department where he will be using his skills in hydraulic, pneumatic and electrical systems to work on the equipment in use at our site. The tasks Adam will encounter will provide a solid foundation for his continued learning in the mechatronics program at Central Carolina Technical College.”

Mechatronics is a synergy of several disciplines It relates to the design, manufacture and maintenance of intelligent electromechanical products and devices. Products that are produced using mechatronics principles have become an intimate part of human lives in modern industry as well as a key contributor to the United States’ competitiveness in the global marketplace. Demand for technicians with superior knowledge and experience in mechatronics has drastically increased in the last decade and has become a requirement for the future.

“Georgia-Pacific partnered with CCTC to create real-world learning experiences for some students through a paid internship program. This will prove to be an opportunity for students to earn extra money while they gain an invaluable skill set through on-the-job training that they wouldn’t otherwise get,” says Randal Watson, academic program manager for mechatronics. “This skillset and work experience will sculpt the future employment opportunities for students who participate in the internship program. Our program has also partnered with other major manufacturing companies that offer paid intern and apprenticeship opportunities to our students. We believe it is our job to help set our students up for success and these are a couple of different ways that we can do that. Many times, these students are offered full-time employment after the internship is complete.”

CCTC offers a Mechatronics Fundamentals Certificate, Basic Mechatronics Technology Certificate and an Advanced Mechatronics Technology Certificate. As the premier training resource for workforce in Clarendon, Kershaw, Lee and Sumter counties, CCTC is addressing the labor shortage through access, training and pathways. The college is proud to have partnerships with local businesses and industries that help students gain on-the-job experience even while attending CCTC.

For more information on the mechatronics program, visit or call (803) 778-1961.

Improving on the ‘BD Way’: Leading local manufacturer wins company’s most prestigious honor

Improving on the ‘BD Way’: Leading local manufacturer wins company’s most prestigious honor


One of Sumter’s leading manufacturers was recently recognized with its company’s most prestigious award.

BD, a medical device manufacturer of blood tubes and needles for the health care industry, won the 2021 Bronze H.P. Becton Quality Award among the corporation’s 83 facilities, and Plant Manager Ken Lee spoke recently on the honor.

According to the firm, the award is the highest recognition of a team, individual or organization of BD associates that successfully demonstrates the intent and spirit of the “BD Way” on quality policy standards.

Quality performance metrics measured with the award include basically every aspect of the business model from device performance, functionality and efficiency to on-time delivery of shipments to customers, Lee said.

“The award reflects positive incremental changes in today’s high-tech, global economy,” he said.

BD currently has about 1,000 associates at its Airport Road facility with a focus on technical fields – to include mechanical, electrical and robotics.

About 120 associates at the plant work in the quality area under Associate Director of Quality Jason Appel.

The facility is currently in the middle of a three-phase expansion that should be complete in two years, Lee added. Phase 2 includes new warehouse space that will increase facility size to 680,000-700,000 square feet. One warehouse near an entrance way will be completed this summer and is about five stories and 62 feet tall.

The most recent award was the first time the corporation gave gold, silver and bronze awards for quality. First- and second-place honors went to medical devices involved in COVID-19 therapy, Lee said.

BD has issued the H.P. Becton Quality Award since 1984, and the Sumter facility won the honor twice previously in 1984 and ’85.

“It’s been a very long time since we were recognized with this prestigious award,” Lee said. “It’s very difficult to win it because BD is full of exceptional, quality-focused professionals who continue to improve year after year.”

Credit: The Sumter Item

The South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs  has partnered with Ping by Tallo, SC Future Makers, and Sumter Economic Development to host the first South Carolina Military Community Hiring

The South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs has partnered with Ping by Tallo, SC Future Makers, and Sumter Economic Development to host the first South Carolina Military Community Hiring

The hiring fair will be divided into a two-day event. A statewide virtual hiring event will be held on Tuesday, March 8, 2022 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Attendees can register by visiting the Ping by Tallo event website. An onsite hiring fair will be hosted at the Sumter Civic Center on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. No registration is required for the onsite hiring fair.

More than 50 employers including Sunoco, Caterpillar, Prisma Health, Tidelands Health, and Continental Tire are registered to participate in the hiring fair, which will be the first of four regional, annual Veteran-hiring fairs hosted by the South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

As of January 2022, the Veteran unemployment rate was 3.5%, up from 3.3% the previous month. South Carolina’s unemployment rate is at 3.5% as of January 2022, according to the South Carolina Department of Labor and the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce.

SCDVA Secretary Will Grimsley has set a strategic objective to reduce the current Veteran unemployment rate to 3.2% by the end of the third quarter of this year, with an overall goal to reach 1.5% in the future. Secretary Grimsley has been actively discussing Veteran workforce enhancement with employers throughout the state and legislators who are working to get bills through the State House that would improve the quality of life for Veterans seeking career opportunities in South Carolina.

“We know there are Veterans in our state who are passionate about service and are seeking a new start with a new career following their progression from active-duty military. Connecting Veterans directly to employers through hiring initiatives like this one is a great start to bridging that gap. There are employers seeking diverse, qualified Veteran candidates in our state as well as Veterans with the proven ability, and personal commitment to become a valued member of the Palmetto State workforce. Hiring fairs like this not only provide a resource to Veterans, it’s also a way to thank them for their service and ensure a path to success.”
SCDVA’s Veteran Employment Coordinator, Alford Taylor, has been working directly with event partners to achieve Secretary Grimsley’s strategic objective goal.

“These events are paramount for our employers, educational, training institutions, and workforce development across the Palmetto State. More importantly, these events will benefit South Carolina’s transitioning military members, military spouses, Veterans, Veteran spouses, and their family members. By helping one Veteran at a time obtain suitable and sustainable employment, this will allow them and their family members to continue to thrive.”

SCDVA chose the City of Sumter as the location for its first South Carolina Military Community Hiring Fair because of Sumter’s diverse employment industries that are dedicated to hiring Veterans. SCDVA is committed to hosting regional hiring fairs annually in all four regions of the state (Upstate, Midlands, Pee Dee, Lowcountry), and will choose a different city in each region to host the events throughout the year.

For more information about SCDVA Employment efforts, visit our website at

EMS-GRIVORY takes four awards at the SPE Automotive Award Night!

EMS-GRIVORY takes four awards at the SPE Automotive Award Night!

EMS-GRIVORY takes four awards at the SPE Automotive Award Night!

At the 20th SPE Automotive Award Night of the «Society of Plastics Engineers», EMS-GRIVORY was once again among the prize winners taking a total of four awards! This year again, innovative applications made using EMS high-performance polymers were nominated in various categories and received several awards.

At the 20th SPE Award Night on August 5, 2021 in Dusseldorf/Neuss (Germany), the Society of Plastics Engineers again presented their coveted awards for the most innovative polymer applications in the automotive industry. Four applications using EMS materials received one of these highly prestigious awards.

Gear shift module – Maximum precision and reliability

The gear shift module with pistons and cylinders made of Grivory HTVS-5X1 and used in various Hyundai models, took second place in the category «Power Train». The hydraulic actuator unit controls gear changes in eight-gear, double-clutch gear systems. The modular design with many non-variable parts allows economic manufacturing of the single components and efficient end assembly. Grivory HTVS-5X1 is used for ten cylinders and five pistons in this design. Decisive for use of Grivory HTVS-5X1 are its excellent surface quality, very good dimensional stability, high bursting strength and high temperature resistance in hot oil.

Rapid charging system: «High-Power-Charging» with long-fiber technology

Also taking second place was the innovative rapid charging system, where Swiss cable specialist Huber+Suhner relies on long-glass fiber products from EMS-GRIVORY for the main component. This prize was awarded in the category «Electronical/Optical Part». The extremely tough, long-glass fiber reinforced and flame protected high performance grade Grivory GVL-4H V0, provides high reliability of the rapid charging system in rough daily use for charging of electric vehicles. Also part of the rapid charging system is a liquid-cooled cable. Thanks to the active cooling process, this cable has a significantly smaller diameter than the throughput would make you believe and is, therefore, very easy to handle. The cooling lines in this cable are also made of an EMS material: Grilamid L.

The High Power Charging (HPC) developed by Huber+Suhner with up to 500 A and 1000 V, allows particularly rapid and, therefore, user-friendly charging times which no longer differ greatly from a filling time with liquid fuel – even batteries of larger electric vehicles can be recharged up to 80% in less than 15 minutes.

Headlight bracket – Metal replacement and functional integration

Third place in the category «Chassis Unit / Structural Component» was taken by a one-piece headlight bracket made of Grivory GVL-4H for Jaguar Land Rover. It allows weight savings of 45% to be achieved for this assembly and replaces the previously used bracket made of die cast aluminium, metal profiles and sheet metal components. As no post-treatment is required, manufacturing costs were also reduced by 30%. The one-piece injection-moulded part makes installation quicker and maintains its shape even during high-temperature painting processes at temperatures above 200°C. The high impact strength and energy absorption of Grivory GVL-4H make metal replacement possible for this crash-relevant component. Using rheological simulation calculations from EMS, the component was optimally modified for the designed construction space.

Multiway valve in cooling systems – Efficiency from a flexible configuration

Also awarded third place was the modular multiway valve from Vitesco Technologies. This is made using several EMS materials: The actuator housing of Grilon TSG-35/4, the valve housing of Grivory HT1V-3HY and the valve lid of Grivory HT1VA-4HY. Further parts, such as the valve spool are made of Grivory HT1V-3HY and the main gear wheel is made of Grivory HTV-4X1. The multiway valve makes various configurations possible with only minimal changes to the components. This allows flexible adjustment to suit the various requirements of different automotive manufacturers. In the case of design changes, the given technology remains to a significant part unchanged, reducing validation outlay and lowering system costs. The design convinces with its compactness; instead of two types of valve, the multiway value combines all functions in one component. Fewer pipelines, connectors, brackets and rapid connections are needed, allowing further cost savings to be achieved.



Rauschenbach Graduates from the Advanced Economic Development Leadership (AEDL) Program

Rauschenbach Graduates from the Advanced Economic Development Leadership (AEDL) Program

Brian Rauschenbach, Project Manager with Sumter Economic Development and TheLINK Alliance recently completed the two-week Advanced Economic Development Leadership executive education program and was awarded the Master Economic Development Practitioner (MEDP) certificate. Brian has been in economic development for 9 years.

AEDL is a collaboration of four universities – Clemson University, The University of Southern Mississippi, Texas Christian University, and the University of New Mexico. These four universities are committed to excellence in economic development and advancing the knowledge, skills, and application of key job creation strategies in America’s cities, communities, and counties.

AEDL is an immersive and challenging experiential curriculum that enhances key skills necessary for leading successful community and economic development strategies. Led by experienced world-class faculty, program topics include communications; navigating today’s media world; marketing and branding; relevance and value proposition after COVID; personal and professional leadership; urban and rural areas; site selection and recruiting.

The Advanced Economic Development Leadership course accepts mid and senior-level practitioners from across the U.S.

South Atlantic Canners and Santa Cruz Nutritionals Honored During Statewide Conference

South Atlantic Canners and Santa Cruz Nutritionals Honored During Statewide Conference

Two industries in TheLINK Region were recognized during the 2021 SC Manufacturing Conference and Expo in Greenville. The anchor event for the conference is the SC Manufacturing Extension Partnership Manufacturing Excellence Awards Luncheon that was held Friday, November 12th. Thirteen companies across the state received awards this year.

South Atlantic Canners in Bishopville received the Outreach Award for their community support and initiatives The stewardship program is the cornerstone of their purpose statement and over the past 10+ years they have been involved in and/or supported numerous community functions, environmental events, and youth education.

“We are grateful for the positive impact that South Atlantic Canners, Inc. has on Lee County and its residents, said Brian Rauschenbach, Existing Industry Project Manager. “The recent award speaks to the culture of South Atlantic Canners, Inc. and TheLINK Alliance is thrilled to celebrate the recognition with the company and its leadership. “

Santa Cruz Nutritionals received the Smart Move SC New Plant Award, highlighting the 2020 announcement to expand operations in Sumter County. The $84 million investment will create 164 new jobs. Established in 1968, SCN is a leading manufacturer of enhanced confectionery delivery systems. The company uses research and science to develop gummy vitamins such as calcium, fiber and other supplements for the functional food and nutraceutical markets.

“Our investments at the Sumter plant were made knowing that we could not be successful without a strong sense of community – both with our city and with our employees,” commented Steve Davis, Vice President of Operations, Santa Cruz Nutritionals, Sumter Plant. “The support that we have seen from both has been instrumental in our growth and I cannot be more excited about the future for Santa Cruz Nutritionals in Sumter and for all of our employees.”

Rauschenbach commented, “Santa Cruz Nutritional’s decision to locate, operate, and expand in Sumter, SC is the definition of an economic development success story. We take great pride in creating an environment where companies are successful in their business location and growth strategies which ● ● ● ●
leads to recurring capital investment and job creation for the company’s and region’s long-term success and sustainability.”

The South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP) is a private, non-profit group that serves as a proven resource to South Carolina businesses, providing them with a range of innovative strategies and solutions. An affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), SCMEP operates under the US Department of Commerce to promote innovation and industrial competitiveness.

Graduate in to Greatness Initiative

Graduate in to Greatness Initiative

More than 20 representatives from local industries and the Sumter School District met to discuss current and future workforce and talent development initiatives. “Graduate in to Greatness” is a new initiative to provide High School seniors with a solid career path as they prepare to graduate.

Sponsored by TheLINK Economic Development Alliance in conjunction with the SC Department of Commerce regional workforce advisor.

We continue to grow and expand our industrial portfolio

We continue to grow and expand our industrial portfolio

Business is great HERE! We continue to grow and expand our industrial portfolio. Nova Molecular Technologies is building a new facility with plans to invest $14.9 million and create 25 new jobs. BD is currently under construction for a major expansion investing $150 million and creating 125 new jobs. King Machine has recently expanded its operations investing $2.6 million and adding 30 new jobs. Also, we’re underway with a 50,000 sq.ft spec building in the I-20 Industrial Park in Lee County. A strong industrial sector speaks to the strength of your community and economy. Their investments demonstrates their trust in our leadership and the belief in our ability to regenerate talented workers. #business #leadership #expansions #jobs #investments

Economic Development Luncheon

Economic Development Luncheon

More than 50 community leaders convened at the Bishopville Opera House for an Economic Development update for Lee County. Information was presented regarding new business announcements and expansions, community investments, and talent development initiatives. Local and state government officials were in attendance, along with leaders in business and education.

Eat On This

Eat On This

Members of Sumter County Sheriff’s Department and the City of Sumter Police participated in a special Law Enforcement session of “Eat on This” – a new community outreach program hosted by TheLINK and Sumter Economic Development. Eat on This is designed to engage groups, build awareness and highlight the impact of economic development in this region.

The goal of the initiative is to explain the community growth process and provide an interactive space to address questions, concerns and become more informed about what’s happening HERE. Sessions are scheduled twice per month with community influencers and organizations.  Let us know if you, too would like to be involved and “Eat on This”!

Toon In To Manufacturing – Carlos

Toon In To Manufacturing – Carlos

Hi, my name is Carlos Andres Barrios. I’m a Process Engineer at Carolina Filters, Inc here in Sumter, SC. We clean metallic filtration and associated process equipment. I’ve been working at Carolina Filters for 3 months and I love it! My birthday is April 11th and my favorite childhood cartoon was Batman.

The best thing about my job is the fact that I have to use imagination and creativity to develop tools to make the process easier and safer for my co-workers. You should “TOON” in to a career in manufacturing because it is rewarding and it provides a unique and detailed perspective towards optimization and standardization of a production line.

East Coast Components Announces Expansion

East Coast Components Announces Expansion

East Coast Components, Inc., a wooden truss manufacturer, has announced an expansion to their Bishopville, SC facility. Formerly, Agtruss, the company became East Coast Components October 7, 2020 and has more than 20 years of meeting the residential, commercial and agricultural needs of Lee County and beyond. The $500,000 investment will create 6 new jobs for the facility located at 316 Industrial Blvd in Bishopville, SC.

“Lee County is ripe for industrial growth, positioned for logistical superiority and open to helping businesses become industrial leaders.  It is this openness and dynamic leadership we value and look forward to for continued growth and success.”  Reece Holley, Co-Owner, East Coast Components, Inc.

When companies in Lee County expand, it demonstrates that we have all the necessary components for businesses to start here and stay here. We are excited that East Coast Components recognizes these assets and will continue to call Bishopville home.” – Travis Windam, Chair, Lee County Council

“It is always our goal to create an environment that stimulates growth and progress for our businesses and our citizens. East Coast Components’ decision to expand in Lee County demonstrates the value of our efforts and is indeed a major win for this region.” Gordon Eckley, Chair, TheLINK Economic Development Alliance


East Coast Components is expanding in Bishopville, SC.
The $500,000 investment is creating 6 new jobs.
The company, formerly Agtruss became East Coast Components October 7, 2020.
East Coast Components is located at 316 Industrial Blvd in Bishopville, SC.
The expansion is expected to be complete in December 2022.

About TheLINK Economic Development Alliance

TheLINK Economic Development Alliance is a public-private economic development organization charged with facilitating the creation of jobs and the investment of capital in our region. Governed by a board of directors comprised of business leaders and public officials throughout Lee and Sumter Counties, SC, TheLINK is a 501 c3 nonprofit organization recognized by the South Carolina Secretary of State.

TheLINK Economic Alliance Receives  “Excellence in Economic Development” Award

TheLINK Economic Alliance Receives “Excellence in Economic Development” Award

Washington, DC – TheLINK Economic Alliance won a Gold Rank “Excellence in Economic Development” award for its Industrial Portfolio from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The honor was presented October 5, 2021 at an awards ceremony during the IEDC Annual Conference, in Nashville, TN.

IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognize the world’s best economic development programs. Twenty-five award categories honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change. IEDC received over 500 submissions from 4 countries for awards this year.

“Bringing home the gold and competing among more than 500 entries puts us in an elite category representing the top 5% receiving this international award. It validates what we’ve long known–this region has all of the makings to be globally competitive and to win”, commented Jay Schwedler, President and CEO of TheLINK Alliance.

“The winners of IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development awards represent the best of economic development and exemplify the leadership that our profession strives for every day,” said 2021 IEDC Board Chair and Invest Buffalo Niagara, President, and CEO Tom Kucharski. “We’re honored to recognize the more than 100 communities whose marketing submissions, projects, and partnerships have improved regional quality of life.”

“Our goal is to consistently create a dynamic marketing program that showcases our best assets and puts TheLINK region out front where we belong”, stated Yanet Lopez, Multimedia Manager for TheLINK Alliance.

Each of this year’s recipients represents the best of the economic development profession and exemplifies the ingenuity for fellow economic developers to aspire to in the years to come.

 About the International Economic Development Council

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 5,000 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities by creating, retaining, and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, IEDC’s members engage in the full range of economic development experiences. Given the breadth of economic development work, our members are employed in various settings, including local, state, provincial, and federal governments, public-private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities, and a variety of other institutions. When we succeed, our members create high-quality jobs, develop vibrant communities, and improve the quality of life in their regions. Learn more at


Toon in to Manufacturing – Detra

Toon in to Manufacturing – Detra

Hi, my name is Detra Mardis. I’m the Human Resources Manager at Eaton Corporation. We’re a manufacturer of electrical distribution equipment. I’ve been working at the Sumter, SC facility for 14 years and a total of 20 years for the company. My birthday is February 25 and my favorite childhood cartoon was Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Inspector Gadget.

One of the best things I like about my job is that no two days are ever the same and I get to witness employees grow into their career/life goals. You should ‘TOON’ in to manufacturing because a career in Human Resources (HR) offers the opportunity to make a real difference while contributing to the organization’s success. We provide solutions and foster growth opportunities for employees and leaders alike.

Toon in to Manufacturing – Larsen

Toon in to Manufacturing – Larsen

Hi, my name is Larsen Cline. I’m the Communications Specialist for Continental Tire here in Sumter, SC. We manufacture passenger and light truck tires. I’ve been working here for almost 6 years and it has been rewarding. My birthday is March 22nd and my favorite childhood cartoon was Scooby-Doo and Power Rangers.

The best thing about my job is “The People!” I have so many wonderful colleagues who are always willing to lend a helping hand or share their knowledge. I also love working for a global company that offers so many growth opportunities to their employees and amazing benefits! You should ‘TOON’ in to a career field in manufacturing because we work in a fast-paced and dynamic environment which keeps things fun and interesting! Also, the teamwork and collaboration within the departments at a manufacturing facility is an incredible thing to witness. All of the departments come together to solve issues and it truly exemplifies one of our core values, For One Another. In the communications field, I interact with and learn from all levels of the organization and also adapt with the ever-changing communication channels; from print to digital, we’re always evolving to best fit the needs of our employees’, which also keeps me relevant in the field!

Toon in to Manufacturing – Jenene

Toon in to Manufacturing – Jenene

Hi, I’m Jenene Morris. I’m an Accountant for the Sumter SKF facility. We’re a manufacturer of Ball, roller & wire race bearings. I’ve been working here for almost 5 years and it’s been great! My birthday is March 25 and my favorite childhood cartoon is Looney Tunes.

The best thing I like about my job is that there is always something new – never gets boring. You should ‘TOON’ in to manufacturing because there is high demand for Accountants and the manufacturing environment provides the opportunity to work in so many different aspects of accounting that you should always be challenged.

Toon In to Manufacturing Paula

Toon In to Manufacturing Paula

Hi, I’m Paula Smith. I’m the Human Resources and Safety Manager at EMS-CHEMIE (North America) Inc in Sumter, SC. We’re a manufacturer of high-performance polyamides.  I’ve been working here for 8 years and I love it. My birthday is November 24 and my favorite childhood cartoon is Looney Tunes.

The best thing about my job is that I like to help others develop the skills and talents to accomplish their career goals and help them solve problems. You should ‘TOON’ in to manufacturing because it gives you the rewarding opportunity to improve the organization and the people you meet along the way.  You are helping people reach their life goals while experiencing a brand-new day with new challenges and opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life.

South Carolina Department of Commerce Secretary to Visit TheLINK Alliance

South Carolina Department of Commerce Secretary to Visit TheLINK Alliance

On June 17, 2021 it was announced that SC Governor Henry McMaster nominated Harry M. Lightsey III as the next Secretary of the South Carolina Department of Commerce. Lightsey was confirmed by the State Senate June 29th and now heads the organization charged with business development for the state. Lightsey visited TheLINK Economic Development Alliance, Tuesday, September 28th. During his time in Sumter, he met with the Economic Development Board and Staff as well as other local leaders and community stakeholders at the Main Room, Downtown Sumter. The luncheon started at 12:00 Noon and Lightsey addressed the group with comments. Lightsey has served in executive leadership roles for several corporations, including as president of BellSouth Telecommunications for South Carolina prior to their merger with AT&T. He also was director of federal government affairs and emerging technologies for the General Motors Corporation.

To new heights: Shaw Air Force Base grows 24% in 10 years

To new heights: Shaw Air Force Base grows 24% in 10 years


Shaw Air Force Base proved itself to be a staple to the military world and Sumter community as it continues to prosper in personnel growth and base operations.
In a span of 10 years, Shaw Air Force Base grew more than 24% in personnel, which came from military and local leaders working together to bring a quality of life to airmen and a handful of squadron units.

According to Air Force Magazine, Shaw had a total of 5,912 active-duty members under its wing in 2011. By 2020, that total grew to 7,376 active-duty personnel, noting that is one of the largest increases among U.S. Air Force bases in the world. That does not even count today’s total.

“During this timeframe, Third Army/U.S. Army Central relocated to Shaw, and the 25th Attack Group activated,” said Capt. Amanda Herman, 20th Fighter Wing chief of public affairs. “Additionally, units that had been here prior to 2011 saw growth.”

The 15th Air Force became the operational headquarters of six additional wings and three direct reporting units, Herman said.

The 9th Air Force (Air Forces Central) grew after its headquarters returned to Shaw from its previous position in the Middle East, according to Herman. The 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron — otherwise known as Kingpin — relocated from Al Dhafra Air Base, which is also in the Middle East.

To date, Shaw still holds the same official total as 2020, but some soldiers and airmen are currently deployed or geographically separated under Shaw’s command, according to Public Affairs.
According to Herman, Army and Air Force personnel duty physically stationed at Shaw today totals about 5,800.

“Shaw Air Force Base is a hub of strategic power. Home to two U.S. Central Command components, U.S. Army Central and 9th Air Force, as well as our (20th Fighter) Wing and parent Numbered Air Force, 15th Air Force, we are one of the most important operational bases in the United States,” said Col. Kevin Hicok, 20th Fighter Wing vice commander. “As we have seen over the last decade, Sumter, known for its ‘Uncommon Patriotism,’ provides us unwavering support to our airmen, soldiers and families to help us remain mission-ready to meet national defense requirements.”

“Tasked to provide air superiority and combat-ready Weasels of every specialty across the globe, the 20th Fighter Wing is also responsible for providing base operating support to units administratively assigned to us, whether located here or geographically separated,” said Col. Lawrence Sullivan, commander of the 20th Fighter Wing. “Whether here or abroad, I am incredibly proud of our airmen who continue to collaborate and integrate across the joint spectrum to deliver warfighting capability.”

Behind the scenes of Shaw Air Force Base’s growth

In 2005, Sumter was threatened when the military went through a Base Realignment and Closure process, with Shaw being one of its marks.
Knowing a closure of the base would destroy Sumter’s economy, its leaders collaborated with their military neighbors to bring several squadron units and operation expansions next door, promising a quality of living in return.

“When I left the mayor’s office in 2000, Joe McElveen, the new mayor, asked me if I could continue doing military affairs because we had been through base closure rounds,” said Steve Creech, who served as mayor for 12 years before McElveen. McElveen retired in 2020.

Creech got to work and contacted former 9th Air Force Commander Mike Moseley, who was at the time vice chief of the Air Force, knowing he saw potential in Shaw just like the community saw potential in Sumter.

“I can say I was maybe a little helpful,” Moseley joked about the base’s growth. “I think Mayor Creech and community base affairs guys were very, very credible and very helpful in explaining opportunities for growth and opportunities for community support of that growth.”

According to James Ellis, deputy chief of HQ ACC Basing, Force Structure & Total Force Division, the Air Force has a strategic basing process that determines a location for a mission set based on thorough analysis of each location, looking at the capacity, mission synergies, cost and environmental impacts.

He said the results of the analysis determine the best location for the mission, and Moseley knew Shaw was a perfect location.

Moseley soon implemented more mission operations under Shaw command, such as additional squadron units under AFCENT and building a home base for ARCENT in 2011, as the two historically have worked side by side, according to Moseley.

With those additions came room for growth and opportunity for the military as Shaw played a vital role in war missions for years and continues to do so.

“Each of those chapters was a different set of challenges and opportunities for Shaw Air Force Base and the community,” Moseley said. “Each of those represented a reset almost.”
Along with Moseley’s work, the county’s leadership secured a military base protection field that gave Shaw even more room for growth without the threat of other development encroaching on the base.

“And an opportunity for growth as long as the community was ahead of that with inspired leadership and vision about how to protect the base and how to provide opportunities for growth. I would say it’s an ongoing partnership,” he said.

Moseley fell for Sumter’s opportunity and “uncommon patriotism” so much that he retired to Sumter’s Historic District after his military career ended in 2008.

“The partnership between the base and the county and city leadership is critical for this,” Moseley said about both the military base and Sumter. “If you do that along the way, then you’re ideally set with things happening, and opportunities present themselves.”

Sumter Mayor David Merchant said both the city and county will continue to protect the land around the base and keep Shaw operating for the sake of the community and for the sake of its military friends and neighbors.

“The city works daily with Shaw to help maintain Shaw’s presence in the state and world,” Merchant said. “With over $1.5 billion per year in economic impact on the Sumter community, this places them in high priority for current and future development plans.”

CREDIT: The Sumter Item

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will kick off National Small Business Week (NSBW) next week. For more than 50 years, the weeklong event has recognized the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners to the local and national economies. And, this year is unlike any other – as America’s small businesses continue to face unique challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Here in South Carolina, small businesses (defined as companies with fewer than 500 employees) are a critical component of the economy, accounting for more than 99% of all private employers in South Carolina. Additionally, more than 43% of all South Carolina employees work for small-sized firms.

Small businesses have taken a hit over the last 18 months. And now, more than ever, it’s imperative to support the local shops and companies that make up the backbone of the state’s economy.

South Carolina’s small business community also consists of some of the state’s most innovative, forward-thinking companies – organizations working on emerging technologies that create disruptive change.

Earlier today, S.C. Commerce, in partnership with the South Carolina Jobs-Economic Development Authority (JEDA) and 3Phase, announced the launch of the state’s first match funding program for Phase II of SBA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants. SBIR and STTR grants are a common first funding source for startups and small businesses to commercialize new, innovative products and services.

Small business is big business in South Carolina. These companies boost prosperity and the overall well-being of South Carolinians. So, during National Small Business Week – and the weeks beyond – support the entrepreneurs and smaller organizations that promote a more vibrant, prosperous community for all.

TheLINK Economic Development Alliance Wins Major Communication Award at the 2021 SEDC Annual Conference

TheLINK Economic Development Alliance Wins Major Communication Award at the 2021 SEDC Annual Conference

For Immediate Release
Contact: Erika D. Williams

TheLINK Economic Development Alliance received one of the top honors for a communications piece at the SEDC Communication Awards Ceremony. The awards ceremony was held during the 2021 Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC) Annual Conference, August 16-17, 2021, in Tampa, Florida.

“These annual Communication Awards recognize and showcase the leading communication and marketing work done by economic development professionals throughout the south. TheLINK Economic Development Alliance hit the mark this year with this communication piece showing not only creativity, but also solid messaging and effectiveness at reaching their target audience” commented Gene Stinson, SEDC President.

The “Industrial Parks Portfolio”, won the Special Judges Award for Innovation Concept in Site Promotion. “The purpose of creating a pocket size industrial portfolio is to create a convenient method to display the sites and buildings that are available to prospective businesses and consultants, said Jay Schwedler, President of TheLINK. “Each site and building occupied equates to new jobs, investment and thus an increase in our tax base.”

 The Communication Awards are given each year by SEDC at its annual conference. Over twenty categories of communications and marketing work submitted by SEDC members are evaluated within four divisions. Judging criteria for General Entry Awards include Graphic Appeal, Clarity of Message, Quality of Information, Positioning / Differentiation and Format.

“Our goal, as the project tagline indicates, is to Connect you to Endless Opportunities. One way of doing this is by creating innovative marketing concepts to draw attention to the countless assets that we have in this region. Winning the special judges award brings attention to our region and attention to the talent that is developed here,” stated Yanet Lopez, Multimedia Manager.

About SEDC

SEDC is the oldest and largest regional economic development association in North America, with more than 860 members representing a variety of backgrounds. From local, regional, and state economic development agencies, chambers of commerce, business and industry, utilities, transportation, finance and education, members share a common interest: the promotion and enhancement of the economic development profession. To find out more about SEDC, please visit



BD has been recognized for having one of the 100 best internship programs

BD has been recognized for having one of the 100 best internship programs

Let’s congratulate BD on their ongoing success! We’re thrilled to have them as one of our leading manufacturing industries in Sumter County, SC operating since 1970.

Every year, WayUp—the leading platform for employers to recruit diverse, qualified talent—publishes a Top 100 Internship Programs List to celebrate the companies giving students an exceptional experience. ​

For more information about the recognition, please visit:


Nova Molecular to Break Ground on New Facility in Sumter, SC

Nova Molecular to Break Ground on New Facility in Sumter, SC

Nova Molecular Technologies, Inc. (Nova), a manufacturing company and lead producer of high-purity solvents will break ground on a new facility in the Pocotaligo East Industrial Site located off of US 521 in Sumter on Thursday, August 12th at 3:00 pm. The new facility is a part of Nova’s operation expansion that will bring $14.9 Million in investment and 25 new jobs as announced in the fall last year.

Founded in 1991, Nova’s high-value solvent Recovery and Return program helps companies reduce costs, increase supply certainty and improve sustainability initiatives. The expansion is expected to be completed by 2024.

Individuals interested in joining the Nova team should visit for more information.

Company and local officials commented on Nova’s expansion in Sumter in the original announcement:

“Nova began considering options in four states including South Carolina. All sites were located within Opportunity Zones which will provide significant tax benefits which will be reinvested back into the business. The Sumter, S.C. site was selected due to the proximity of the existing production facility to utilize and expand the outstanding Sumter community workforce we currently enjoy. The proximity also allows for better collaboration between sites. The financial incentives offered by the local and state governments were very competitive as well as the favorable corporate tax structure.” -Nova Molecular Technologies, Inc. Chairman of the Board Jon Michael Clumpner

“It is always exciting to publicize and acknowledge the growth of a company in our county that has been an exceptional leader and partner in not only their line of business, but also in community cooperation and support. Increasingly, in the company’s time in Sumter, they have proven their desire to provide excellence in service to corporate customers and support to the well-being of our region.” -Sumter County Council Chair Jim McCain

“For more than a decade, Nova Molecular Technologies, Inc. has provided superior service to Fortune 500 companies from around the globe from their Sumter operations facility. That, coupled with their announcement of an expansion, speaks volumes about the quality of work and workers that transpire in this region. We have long pursued and will continue to seek solutions to match world-class employers with exceptional employees that meet and exceed their expectations in order to respond to business needs. We are thrilled that Nova Molecular Technologies, Inc. is growing and also for our community which will benefit greatly from this investment and job creation.” -Sumter Economic Development Board Chair Greg A. Thompson.

Five Fast Facts

● Nova Molecular Technologies, Inc. is breaking ground on a new facility in Sumter.

● The ceremony will be held Thursday, August 12, 2021 at 3:00 pm in the Pocataligo East Industrial Site in Sumter.

● The operations expansion is expected to be completed by 2024.

● The expansion is bringing more than $14.9 Million and creating 25 new jobs.

● Nova Molecular Technologies is a manufacturing company and lead producer of high-purity solvents.

### The mission of the Sumter Economic Development is to be the galvanizing force of Sumter County’s economic development effort by creating wealth for all citizens of Sumter County by increasing per capita income and supporting the creation of well-paying jobs.

Southern Current expanding operations in Lee County

Southern Current expanding operations in Lee County

Company investing $38.8 million into expansion

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Southern Current, a leading developer in the residential, commercial and utility-scale solar markets, today announced plans to expand operations in Lee County. The company is investing $38.8 million into the expansion.

Located throughout the Southeast, Southern Current is an owner and developer of utility-scale solar energy facilities with an in-house team of development professionals. The company manages projects from site selection and origination through construction and operation.

For more information on Southern Current, visit the company’s website.


“Southern Current is excited to expand its operations in Lee County. The economic development team and county administration have been strong supporters of the growth of clean energy. A strong partnership with the county has made these additional investments possible, and we are proud to be part of the community.” -Southern Current Chief Development Officer Paul Fleury

“With this announcement by Southern Current, we are once again proving that South Carolina is a place where businesses of all kinds can grow and succeed. This $38.8 million investment is a big win for Lee County and the state as a whole.” -Gov. Henry McMaster

“The future of solar energy in South Carolina continues to be a bright spot. We congratulate Southern Current on investing in our state and adding to our growing portfolio of renewable energy resources.” -Secretary of Commerce Harry M. Lightsey III

“Our goal is to provide the ideal environment and labor for industry and community development. Southern Current’s confidence in our ability to provide these elements is evident in their decision to continue their business operations in Lee County.” -Lee County Council Chairman Travis Windham

“We are excited about Southern Current’s expansion. Companies that invest in our region have our commitment for excellence of service, leadership and talent development.” -TheLINK Economic Development Alliance Chairman Gordon Eckley


  • Southern Current is expanding operations in Lee County.
  • The company will invest $38.8 million into the expansion.
  • Southern Current is a leading developer in the residential, commercial and utility-scale solar markets.
  • The company manages projects from site selection and origination through construction and operation.
  • For more information on Southern Current, visit the company’s website.
Sumter Today: King Machine rules in the tire mold market through its partnership with Continental

Sumter Today: King Machine rules in the tire mold market through its partnership with Continental

As with any partnership, the product is only as good as its weakest link, and that remains true at King Machine.
The company manufacturers tire molds and is the only mold provider to Continental Tire’s Sumter plant.
Both companies have expanded, and King Machine is currently in the middle of another 30-job expansion.
We stopped by the plant this week to speak with their CEO about their business mindset and their relationship with Continental, which is Sumter County’s largest employer.

Credit: The Sumter Item

4th Manufacturers and Technology Expo Held for Students in Sumter And Lee Counties

4th Manufacturers and Technology Expo Held for Students in Sumter And Lee Counties

(Sumter, SC)—TheLINK Economic Development Alliance and the South Carolina Department of Commerce hosted the 4th Manufacturers and Technology Expo for 8th-grade students in Sumter and Lee Counties, Wednesday, March 31st. The Expo, which has become an annual event allows students to be EXPO‘SED’ to the advanced technology used in today’s manufacturing. And although this years’ event was virtual due to the COVID Pandemic, it was well attended by 8th graders who are intrigued by modern manufacturing and the opportunities that are in this region. “I took away a new understanding of stem careers and the people behind the jobs” Commented one 8th grade attendee from Alice Drive Middle School, “The Manufacturing Expo was really fun for me and I enjoyed the interactive activities.”

In an effort to deepen the impact for a virtual event, students were provided kits by industry participants to follow along with simulated operations. Expo attendees learned pipe building, product development, and global logistics during the two-hour event.  “The importance of introducing students early and often to the advanced technology used in today’s manufacturing is critical to the success of our region”, commented Jay Schwedler, CEO of Sumter Economic Development and TheLINK Alliance, “We are positioning ourselves to respond to the demands of employers with our talent standing at-the-ready. Manufacturing offers good jobs, with good pay– we are dedicated to changing the mindset of not only the traditional manufacturing environment but also the thought of what is considered the pathway to success.”


From SKF Sumter to Mars: Bearings produced at local plant used in Perseverance rover

From SKF Sumter to Mars: Bearings produced at local plant used in Perseverance rover

Sumter’s manufacturing base has always been known for making products used across the globe, but now it can add “other planets” to that portfolio with SKF bearings on NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover.

SKF, with two production sites in Live Oak Industrial Park, has five thin-section bearings in five locations on the Mars rover, and Senior Vice President John Bloomer was in town Tuesday to discuss the company’s Kaydon bearing product line and the specialized units on Perseverance.

SKF manufactures bearings for various industries, including semiconductors, medical device equipment, security equipment and military/defense equipment, and that body of work has allowed it to participate in space mission programs with NASA for decades now, Bloomer said.

Perseverance is a surface exploration device – about the size of an SUV – that is collecting and handling rock and other material samples on Mars’ surface that will eventually return to Earth for analysis to help further missions.

The five Kaydon thin-section ball bearings on Perseverance are in the rover’s main robotic arm, a tool bit carousel that deploys tools to drill in material, a sample collecting “hand” and a sample storage assembly.

SKF Sumter also supplied specialized bearings for the mission’s launch vehicle, which carried the rover in a six-month journey in space on the way to Mars, Bloomer said.

Serving as a supplier in NASA’s space mission programs requires products made with incredible precision and customization, he added.

The stainless steel thin-section bearings had to be durable with maximum functionality, yet also extremely lightweight, to meet requirements, Bloomer said. Repair and replacement is not an option on a space mission.

SKF Sumter’s specialized heat treatment, grinding, cutting and honing on its manufacturing channel line are unique in the bearings industry and qualified it for NASA’s strict standards, according to Bloomer.

“Our biggest investment was in time and in muscle and engineering knowledge and working through the process with NASA,” he said. “We had the equipment and the capability to do it. We didn’t really have to tool up for this. It was just taking a normal type of catalog bearing, but make it very, very special for NASA.”

Bloomer said the Kaydon bearings on the space mission took about three months to produce internally to meet NASA specifications.

Hundreds of manufacturers supplied components and parts to the project, and NASA does its own assembly.

SKF is in an expansion process with its Sumter facilities, and Bloomer credits the local expansion to its talented workforce here and partnerships with schools, including Central Carolina Technical College.

Technology upgrades in the form of capital investments come along with expansions in today’s manufacturing world, and the Sumter sites have shown demonstrated capabilities with its workforce.

Bloomer added he hopes SKF can continue to satisfy its workforce pipeline through Central Carolina.

Based in the Philadelphia area, Bloomer said SKF Sumter is a “great team” and SKF is a “great company to work for.”

“Where else could you ever go and say, ‘I made something, I touched something, that wound up on another planet.’ I think that might be one of the coolest career satisfaction sentences that I have ever heard.”


Credit: The Sumter Item