A television manufacturer has announced it will close its Winnsboro plant, blaming new tariffs on Chinese imports for the loss of 126 jobs.
Element Electronics opened to much fanfare in 2013, announcing it would create 500 new jobs at the site. The Minnesota-based company agreed to move its manufacturing facilities to the Fairfield County plant in exchange for job creation tax credits and a $1.3 million rural infrastructure grant.
The State newspaper in Columbia first reported the announcement.
In filings with the state Department of Employment and Workforce, Vic President Carl Kennedy said the plant would shut down on October 5, but he hoped the closure would be temporary for three to six months. “We cannot predict this with any certainty at this time,” he added.
“The layoff and closure is a result of the new tariffs that were recently and unexpectedly imposed on many goods imported from China, including the key television components used in our assembly operations,” Kennedy wrote.
The company had marketed itself as a rare example of American-made electronics, with customers ranging from Walmart to QVC. In an ironic twist, Element had initially hoped to benefit from the tariffs, according to State Sen. Mike Fanning, D-Fairfield. Fanning said Element initially believed the tariffs would impact finished Chinese-made televisions. Instead, it targeted electronic parts.
“In fact, they were looking at possibly expanding when it was first announced,” Fanning said. “But once they found out it was the parts of the TV that were going to receive the tariffs… If nobody in America is making television sets other than (Element), then there’s certainly not a parts manufacturer anywhere in America. So they obviously buy their parts overseas.”