A maker of safety clothing announced plans Wednesday to put its new operations center in Barnwell County. The investment by A&K Textiles is expected to generate 120 new jobs.
The company will set up a new cut-and-sew operation in a former textile facility. It’s relocating from Egypt and hopes to bring the new plant online by April. A&K was recently purchased by the same group that owns Sasco Safety– a highway safety product manufacturer that announced its intention to move to Barnwell earlier this year.
“We look forward to starting up our new operations in the coming months. Barnwell County had a building to suit our needs and offers us a business-friendly climate,” Kevin Bradley, the owner of A&K Textiles, said in the press release announcing the move.
Bradley is also the CEO of Sasco. He was not available to talk Wednesday.
“He’s just diversifying and putting some additional square footage in the building that he had available,” said Marty Martin, the head of the Barnwell County Economic Development Corporation.
He explained A&K will start out making safety clothing and then eventually try to expand its product line.
Wednesday’s announcement capped a busy fall for Martin and other Barnwell officials. Martin said the county originally had four empty buildings it was trying to lease out to prospective manufacturers before landing deals with Sasco, NK Newlook, and Doc Depot.
“The thing now is that we’re out of empty buildings, so that’s good,” he laughed, “I would expect that we may have some slowdown in activity, certainly.” He added that he had not seen such a flurry of expansion in his 11 years with economic development.
South Carolina commerce officials have made it a priority to attract manufacturing companies to the state. A big selling point has been the glut of empty, former textile plants that offer a lower cost alternative for smaller manufacturers that do not want to build their own facilities from scratch.
“South Carolina has a reputation as a state that can make things,” Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt said in a statement, “We also have a long tradition of being a textile manufacturing state. A&K Textiles’ new operation will build on that reputation.”
A&K Textiles will receive a rural infrastructure grant from the state to help with the building’s upfit. The company will begin hiring for the new positions in March. Anyone interested in job opportunities with the company should contact SCWorks Center in Barnwell at that time.