Laurens County ranked 2nd in GDP growth

A federal study has Laurens County listed among the top counties in the U.S. for recent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, released statistics this past week that positioned Laurens County second among all counties nationwide in GDP growth in terms of percentages. The study covered the years 2012-15 and during that span, Laurens County’s GDP grew 142.84 percent, according to the BEA.

Laurens County Development Corporation Executive Director Jonathan Coleman said the opening of ZF Transmissions was a major factor in the local GDP growth, but was not the only factor.

“It’s not all ZF,” Coleman said. “I went back and looked at our capital investments during that time, and ZF makes up about half of that total number.”

In 2012, the county’s GDP was just over $4.11 billion. After incremental growth in 2013 ($2.036 billion) and 2014 ($3.18 billion), the total GDP hit more than $3.42 billion in 2015, a gain of more than $2 billion in three years.

The percentage of growth for Laurens County is nearly double that of Calhoun County (76.42 percent), which ranked second in the state, which grew from around $373 million to about $658 million from 2012-15.

This is the first time the Bureau of Economic Analysis is providing GDP statistics for each and every county in the U.S.,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in a release from the BEA. “The prototype data addresses one of the last remaining gaps in economic knowledge, offering policymakers and businesses a new tool to inform their decision making.”

According to the BEA, the GDP statistics offer “a more complete picture of local area economic conditions” when combined with the agency’s county estimates of personal income.

Nationwide, Coleman said Laurens County’s GDP growth by percentage finished behind only Greenbrier, West Virginia, which is home to the upscale Greenbrier resort hotel, PGA Tour-caliber golf course and casino.

After the numbers were released, Coleman received a call from a Wall Street Journal reporter asking how Laurens County attained such a lofty place in the report.

“It’s just a growth in industry and production,” he said.

An article found in the Wall Street Journal, which is consumed daily by international business leaders, should also help the LCDC’s efforts moving forward, Coleman said.

“It puts Laurens County in a good light,” he said. “We’re definitely going to tout it and push it out there for people to see.”

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