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Windy City: GE locating facility in Clinton

A second sizable investment in the renewable-energy sector is being made in Laurens County. General Electric announced a $29 million facility to be located at Clinton’s I-26 Commerce Park that will focus on “onshore wind technologies.” The facility, which was dubbed “Project Windy” by local officials, will test prototype-bearing designs and evaluate next-generation bearing technology for GE’s Onshore Wind business.

GE’s announcement comes on the heels of last month’s approval by the Laurens County Council for a 400-acre solar farm owned by Birdseye Renewable Energy to be located between Clinton and Joanna.

“GE Renewable Energy is delighted to expand our presence in South Carolina,” said Pete McCabe, president and CEO of GE’s Onshore Wind business. “The highly skilled workforce and proximity to other GE facilities makes this an ideal location to continue our research as we work to provide sustainable, reliable, affordable energy for everyone.”

The facility is initially expected to employ 17 people with plans to be operational by the end of 2017. According to a news release, GE Renewable Energy has the largest installed base of onshore wind turbines in the U.S., providing more than 37 gigawatts of capacity for customers across the country.

“We are excited to welcome GE to Laurens County,” said Laurens County Development Corporation Chairman Jeff Field. “Having one of the strongest brands in the world locate in our county will help us continue to attract high-quality industries, as well as kickstart the development of the Clinton 26 Commerce Park.

“This spec building was a collaboration between many entities, and this announcement is a great example what can be done with partnerships and collaboration. We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with GE and wish them many years of success in Laurens County.”

Local officials broke ground on the initial phase of the I-26 Commerce Park in April of 2016 and a second phase in June of last year. The project was funded by the City of Clinton, Santee-Cooper, Advantage Clinton and the Clinton-Newberry Natural Gas Authority.

Phase one included a 100,000 square-foot development-ready pad and phase two added a 150,000 square-foot development-ready pad. Long-term plans are to grow the park, which is located at Highway 72 and I-26, into a 750-acre industrial complex.

“We are extremely pleased that GE Renewable Energy has chosen Clinton for their research and development facility,” said Clinton Mayor Robert McLean. “A Fortune 500 company such as GE will be a significant contributor to the development of the Clinton I-26 Commerce Park and is a great fit for our overall master plan for the Exit 54 area. On behalf of the Clinton city council and our citizens, I wish to extend a warm welcome and look forward to a long term relationship between the City of Clinton and GE.”

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