BARNWELL, S.C. (AP) - A cabinet maker announced Tuesday it will open a plant in rural Barnwell County and employ about 300 people by the end of 2009.
The Elkay Cabinet Division plans to invest more than $12 million in the county, which borders Georgia and had a more than 9 percent unemployment rate in June. Hiring will begin next year.
The company will renovate a building vacated last year by the closing of window and storefront maker Efco Corp., said County Council Chairman Keith Sloan.
''We took a real hit when they moved out. This is going to more than replace it,'' Sloan said. ''This is just a huge, huge prize for Barnwell County.''
The Elkay Cabinet Division, part of Illinois-based Elkay Manufacturing Co., has 11 facilities and 3,500 employees nationwide, according to the state Commerce Department. Gov. Mark Sanford joined Barnwell officials for the announcement.
Also Tuesday, Michelin North America announced plans to expand facilities in four South Carolina counties, investing $350 million over the next four years that will create about 100 new jobs.
The company will split the money between plants in Anderson, Greenville, Lexington and Spartanburg counties and increase its workers statewide to nearly 9,000.
Jim Micali, chairman and president of Michelin's North American operations, credited the expansions to an incentives package passed by the Legislature in June. Part of the legislation was aimed at Michelin by allowing tax credits for manufacturers with at least 5,000 full-time employees and $2 billion investment in the state.
Without the incentives, the investments could have gone anywhere in the world, Micali said. He declined to break down the money and jobs by county.
Michelin, which built its first modern U.S. plant in Greenville in 1975, has 7,850 employees and 2,650 retirees in 37 of the state's 46 counties. In the past 30 years, the company has invested $2.1 billion in South Carolina, said company spokeswoman Lynn Mann.