March 4, 2015
The old Hickman Mill plant in Graniteville – once part of the heartbeat of the small town – has life again.
The old mill has been transformed into a state-of-the-art facility with the opening on Friday of a new plant by Recleim, an e-waste recycling company.
This is clearly a win for the town of Graniteville and Aiken County because of the economic benefits it generates. The company has invested $40.6 million into the facility and is expected to eventually bring 200 jobs to the area.
This economic recruitment, however, is even more monumental because of its location. Graniteville was once the headquarters to the sprawling former Graniteville Co. mill system, but was essentially crippled decades ago because of the U.S. textile industry’s collapse. Also, the town is still recuperating from a horrific freight train derailment in 2005 that spilled thousands of gallons of chlorine into the air.
Building a facility in an area once soaked in toxic chemicals took a bold vision on the part of Recleim, and thankfully, Aiken County and, in particular, Graniteville, will reap the benefits. Months of construction – both inside the old mill and outside it – are now culminating into not just the opening of a new business, but a brighter outlook for the community. The company made investments into new loading and receiving docks at the building, as well as new offices and a refurbished parking lot. Having a high-tech, one-of-a-kind facility in the heart of Graniteville shines a positive light on a town that wasn’t necessarily guaranteed success after facing so much adversity.
The ribbon-cutting on Friday was a reminder of both the resiliency of Graniteville, as well the collaboration that went into recruiting Recleim to our community. Aiken County Council approved $675,000 in local incentives for the company in April 2013 as part of a pool of grant money distributed by the S.C. Department of Commerce. Additional money from those grants also went toward helping Bridgestone, also located in Graniteville, with its latest expansion at its existing plant located at the Sage Mill Industrial Park.
These two companies – Recleim and Bridgestone – as well as MTU America with its state-of-the-art diesel production facility in Graniteville, have created a cluster of manufacturing in the area that offers hope for future economic growth.
Replenishing what Graniteville lost years ago should be an ongoing mission of local leaders as the town continues its efforts to rebuild and recover.