Marion County is getting a desperately needed economic shot in the arm with Tuesday’s announcement that the Softee Supreme Diaper Corporation will expand and locate operations in the county that has a current unemployment rate over 20 percent. The $6 million dollar investment is expected to create 262 jobs over the next four years. The availability of an existing building in Mullins coupled with the availability of employable personnel were two of the main reasons the company chose Marion County for expansion. Marion County State Representative Jim Battle says the executives familiarity and connections with South Carolina were also factors.
“Colin Brown, Blanche Wright, Robert Williams and Jonathan Pinson, two of these persons are on the Board of Trustees at South Carolina State University so they are familiar with South Carolina. They were located in Georgia and they outgrew their facilities there and were looking for a place to expand.”
On hand for the official announcement were Governor Mark Sanford and Sixth District Congressman Jim Clyburn. The company is already taking applications and hope to be up and running with a small work force by the end of October.
Softee Supreme is already retrofitting the old 294,000 square foot Fabric Resources building on U.S. Highway 76 in Mullins. Battle says the facility recently became available to the county. “A gentleman in New York, as I understand it, owned it and he didn’t pay his property taxes so he just gave it up to the county. The company is now busy retrofitting the building. It does seem like starting operations in three to four weeks is pretty quick, but that is exactly what they say they are going to do.”
Over the past decade,, the company has consistently added new customers for its lines of private label diapers that have reached into international markets.
Battle says the company will be paying competitive wages. “I understand that the average wage is going to be about $12.62 an hour, with the top wage being around $14.50 for machine operators, down to around $10.50 for persons packaging the product.”
Battle says he is hoping that Tuesday’s announcement will jump start the county’s economy that has yet to fully recover from the hit it took 10 years ago when the Russell Stovers Candy Company, which employed over a thousand workers, moved to Texas. “We’re in a great place. We ‘re about 30 miles from myrtle beach, about 30 miles from Florence, which is growing, and we’ve got a lot of great people.”