Sonoco to invest $100 million in upgrades, create jobs in Darlington County

Sonoco of Hartsville announced Tuesday it would be investing $100 million in upgrades to its Darlington County plant, creating up to ten new jobs.

According to a news release from Governor Nikki Haley's office, Sonoco will spend $75 million to add a new biomass boiler, which will replace the two existing coal-fired boilers.

Sonoco makes packaging products. The news release says the new boiler will produce about 16 megawatts of green energy that will be used in the paper making process.

"We are extremely excited about this project. It is the single largest capital investment that Sonoco has made to our Hartsville manufacturing operations and in South Carolina," said Sonoco President and Chief Operating Officer Jack Sanders. "In addition to maintaining the viability of our operations and protecting hundreds of existing jobs, the project will create new growth opportunities and new jobs."

Haley's office says the improvements will begin this month and last through July 2013.

"Sonoco is a world-class company and we are excited that they are making this large investment in Darlington County. This announcement not only indicates the company's commitment to South Carolina, it also demonstrates that we are doing the right things on the economic development front to attract large investments like this one," said Gov. Nikki Haley.

In addition to the ten jobs that will be added, the company says construction will require 200 people. Thirty jobs could be created indirectly through the delivery of biomass material to the plant.

Sonoco says it has asked its contractor, McBurney, to work with the State Employment Commission and local employment agencies to hire as many qualified, locally-based, skilled workers as possible.

"For more than a century Sonoco has played an important part in South Carolina's manufacturing sector and we congratulate them on this new investment. Today's announcement is another indication that ours continues to be a manufacturing state," said Bobby Hitt, Secretary of Commerce.

The release from the governor's office says South Carolina has recruited more than $3.3 billion in investment and more than 12,000 new jobs in the manufacturing sector.

"This investment by Sonoco is a testament to the globally competitive workforce in Darlington County," said Darlington County Council Chairman Billy Baldwin. "Sonoco's investment is one of the largest industrial investments in the history of the county. The county council and the school board have responded to Sonoco's commitment to Darlington County with a globally competitive performance-based tax incentive package. We thank the legislative delegation for providing this project the support of the S.C. Department of Commerce and ability to provide competitive tax rates."

"This new biomass boiler system is the culmination of Sonoco's ongoing sustainability efforts," said Robert Long, executive director of the Darlington County Economic Development Partnership. "Sonoco is a great corporate citizen that embraces their environment responsibility."

The Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved the company for a rural infrastructure grant of $100,000, which will be used to improve roads used by the trucks going to and from the facility.

In an effort to minimize interruptions to local traffic, Sonoco says it is working closely with the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) and Darlington County to identify the best route to get the trucks into and out of its facility.