October 20, 2014

Kent International opens bike assembly facility in Manning

kentiKent International Inc., a global supplier of bicycles and accessories, held an opening ceremony Wednesday for the company’s first U.S. bike assembly facility, which is located in South Carolina.

Kent began production of its Bicycle Corporation of America (BCA) line at the Manning facility this week. The initial commitment will be to handle Walmart’s needs for their spring 2015 launch.

Governor Nikki Haley and representatives from across the region were present during the announcement and joined the celebration. During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Kent announced its plans to double the amount of production and assembly than it had originally projected, from a half-million to more than a million bikes over the next four years. The company also expects to hire more than 200 employees to work in the 200,000 sq. ft. facility.

“We are seeing the economics of domestic sourcing changing due to increased energy and transportation costs overseas,” said Arnold Kamler, Chairman and CEO of Kent International. “We have developed a long-term approach and are taking action to create our own manufacturing hub onsite by encouraging companies to move component part production here.”

Kent presently outsources all of its bicycle production overseas (approximately 3 million bikes last year) due to the lower costs of production and has no plans to cut back on their importation. Instead, the plan is to fuel their growth through bicycles which will be assembled and produced in South Carolina. The plan is to source as much as 60-70% of the components parts in the USA by 2018. At the present time, virtually all of the component parts are being imported from Taiwan and China. Kent’s new line produced in South Carolina will be called “BCA” – Bicycle Corporation of America and will be the first mass production of bicycles sold in the USA in more than 15 years.

Kamler told South Carolina Radio Network they chose South Carolina because the state had a lot to offer. “The real estate here was great. The utilities cost were great.”

In addition to Walmart, the Parsippany, NJ-based company is also a major supplier to Toys R’ Us, Amazon and Academy Sports & Outdoors.

SC gas prices at a near 4-year low

AAA Carolinas reports that the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in South Carolina has fallen below $3 for the first time in nearly four years. The average price for a gallon of gas was $2.97 in South Carolina, eight cents lower than a week ago and 16 cents lower over the past month. The last time the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded fell below $3 was in February 2011.

Greenville-Spartanburg has the least expensive gas in the state at an average of $2.92 a gallon, while the service stations in the  Charleston area have the most expensive gasoline prices at an average of $3.02 a gallon.

Could SC learn from other state’s open mining

OP mineSheared off mountain tops, towering piles of rubble and deep pits make it hard to ignore Montana’s recent history of gold mining.

According to the Rock Hill Herald, dominant on the landscape, industrial-scale gold mines provided jobs and tax revenues for parts of three decades in small communities that came to depend on the economic support. But big open-pit gold mines had such an impact on the environment that Montana effectively banned new ones 16 years ago.

Now, as a Canadian corporation looks to develop an industrial-scale gold mine in South Carolina, Montana is struggling with the mess these massive operations left behind. Bankruptcies, sloppy mining practices and sometimes lax oversight created expensive and dangerous problems that other states could learn from as a new wave of gold exploration extends to the Southeast, Montana regulators say.

“We have had long and painful lessons,” said Warren McCullough, a bureau chief with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. “I would hope other states would look at that and keep that in mind.”

The mine proposed for South Carolina, which would be larger than any gold digging operation in the eastern United States, would be an open-pit mine similar to those in Montana.

Unlike underground shaft mines, open-pit gold mines are massive operations that rely on blasting huge craters in the earth’s crust to extract microscopic gold particles that are embedded.

New Boeing order to benefit Charleston plant



Garuda Indonesia Airlines has ordered 50 737 MAX 8s, Boeing’s new single-aisle passenger jet with a North Charleston connection. The flag carrier of Indonesia will purchase 46 MAX 8s and convert existing orders for four Next-Generation 737-800s to 737 MAX 8s. The total order is valued at $4.9 billion at current list prices, though airlines rarely pay full sticker price for huge orders, according to The Post and Courier newspaper.


The 737 MAX 8 represents a bright, efficient future for Garuda Indonesia,” said Emirsyah Satar, chief executive officer of Garuda Indonesia. “This order helps continue our commitment to offer the people of Indonesia and Southeast Asia the most comfortable, most efficient air travel in the region.”


Garuda Indonesia currently operates 77 Boeing 737s. The new order gives the airline the flexibility to grow and to update its fleet as the market demands.  “The 737 MAX will be a great addition to the Garuda’s fleet,” said Dinesh Keskar, senior vice president of Asia Pacific and India sales for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “It will build on the strong tradition of service that Garuda Indonesia has established with the 737 family. This order demonstrates Garuda’s trust in Boeing and a strong commitment to operate the most fuel-efficient, single-aisle airplanes in the market today and in the future.”


Boeing is constructing a plant in North Charleston’s Palmetto Commerce Park to make engine inlet components for the 737 MAX 8. It’s expected to open in mid-2015.

State unemployment rate increases for second straight month

The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce reported Friday that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate grew to 6.4 percent in August from a revised 5.8 percent in July.

The estimated number of unemployed increased by just over 13,000 to 138,000 in August. Meanwhile, the number of those with jobs fell by 7,600 to 2,036,000. From July to August, the labor force did grow by 5,700 people to 2,174,000.

The new data bucked the national trend. The overall U.S. unemployment rate decreased to 6.1 percent in August from 6.2 percent in July. It marked the first time since November 2013 that South Carolina’s unemployment rate has been above the national rate.

Areas showing the highest increases in jobs were Education and Health Services (+2,800); Leisure and Hospitality (+1,200); and Manufacturing (+1,000). Areas showing job declines were Financial Activities and Information Services.

About 20,200 people have found work since August 2013, and the labor force decreased by nearly 6,300 during that same time period. Over the year, the state’s unemployment rate declined by 1.1 percentage points.