Local Industry Key to Aiken's Economy

The strength of the Aiken community can be seen in its manufacturing base, says Fred Humes, director of the Economic Development Partnership.  "Jobs provided by local industry enable our citizens to enjoy a higher than average quality of life.  Revenue to the community in the form of taxes provides a solid foundation for needed service.  Aiken and Aiken County are leading the way in manufacturing and technology," Humes said.
Mike Uhle understands the impact of commercial industry to the county.  As the Human Resources Service Leader at Bridgestone, he said that the local plant currently has 940 employees with an annual payroll of more than $77 million. "We use about 150,000 MkWh (million kilowatt hours) of electricity supplied by SCE&G and over 410,000 million cubic feet of natural gas each year.  As far as local community and charitable contributions, Bridgestone contributed approximately, $250,000 last year," Uhle said. 
Bridgestone produces tires for Chrysler, General Motors, Hyundai, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota, as well as for the replacement tire market.  The company's total investment since construction began in1997 is approximately $500 million.
Aiken Electric Co-operative, Inc. is another industry that contributes to Aiken County's economy.  "We have invested close to $6 million in economic development projects in the region.  Our sales exceed $97.4 million and our paid taxes top $4.5 million," said CEO Gary Stooksbury.
This commitment to the community has paid off in new jobs, increased tax base, and an expanded industry mix.  "We offer a competitive salary and benefits program, which helps us attract excellent employees and maintain a high retention rate," Stooksbury added.  
Aiken Electric Co-operative is also aware of the importance of the area's economic well being and helps to recruit new business to the area - working closely with the Economic Development Partnership, the Palmetto Economic Development Corporation, and the South Carolina Department of Commerce to attract new industry.
Aiken Electric Co-op serves more than 45,000 members.  Its service area is nine counties and is larger than the state of Delaware.  
 For the past 21 years, the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce has thanked local industry for their investment in the community, their creation of jobs, and their many contributions to the area's economy and quality of life by hosting a golf tournament.  This year, the 22nd Annual Industry Appreciation Golf Tournament will be held September 20. 
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