At a time when development is sagging in some states, South Carolina is shining. Just following last week’s announcement from Boeing concerning a new facility in North Charleston, Clemson University announced Monday that just under $100 million will be invested in a large-scale wind turbine testing and research facility at the former Navy base in North Charleston.
Berkeley County Senator Larry Grooms, who was an instrumental player in making the Clemson project happen, says it’s much bigger than the hundreds of jobs it will produce. Grooms asserts that South Carolina will also likely become the world’s center for wind turbine manufacturing. That, he says, would generate between 10,000 and 20,000 jobs as turbine-producing industries come to South Carolina.
Grooms says the Palmetto State is positioned to become an industrial hub for wind energy manufacturing.
“In order to get this federal grant we had to pull together several agencies,” said Grooms. “And when they examined applications from across the country they agreed that South Carolina is the place for the testing and research facility. Companies from all around the world will come here.”
Senator Grooms says the Clemson announcement is the start of something big. And he says the beginnings of turbine manufacturing are already in South Carolina. “G.E. is building some of the turbines right now in South Carolina,” said Grooms. “Fluor Daniel has partnered with the London Wind Array. A number of South Carolina companies are making wind turbine components.”
Grooms says the ships that carry the giant turbine blades need deep water ports and he says South Carolina is the only state on the east coast that has both a wind energy research university and a deep water port.
But will South Carolina ever be a prominent producer of wind turbine energy? Grooms says the state has swallow waters off the coast and sustainable winds that will make good wind fields.
Clemson University Vice President of Public Service and Agriculture and Economic Development John Kelly says Grooms was an integral parts of securing the 34-acre land grant from the State Ports Authority along with $5 million in funding from the Redevelopment Authority. Grooms, who is running for the Republican nomination for governor, says he also helped with three other major economic projects announced recently: Boeing, Tire Kingdom’s plan to locate a major North American distribution center in the state, and cargo shipper Maersk renegotiating a deal to continue using the Port of Charleston.