“Game-Changing” Manufacturing Center Coming to Georgetown, SC
The Georgetown Center for Advanced Manufacturing stands to bridge the skilled workforce gap and fuel economic development in the region.
Beginning this fall, residents of Georgetown, South Carolina and surrounding areas will have job training opportunities they’ve never had before, and with it, a potential for economic growth for the entire region.
“The Georgetown Center for Advanced Manufacturing will play a vital role in economic development in Georgetown and bridging the employment gap across the state,” says Georgetown Mayor Brendon Barber. “It will produce tremendous opportunities for the people of Georgetown and provide a better quality of life for our residents. We are extremely fortunate to have a state-of-the-art facility like this right in our own backyard.”
Employers across South Carolina have expressed difficulties in accessing a steady pipeline of highly trained workers, and Georgetown employers project over 240 jobs will be needed in welding, mechatronics, machine tool and robotics over the next two to five years.
Horry-Georgetown Technical College is stepping to the plate to provide the skilled workforce to meet industry demands.
EnviroSep, a full-service engineering and manufacturing company based in Georgetown, has recently experienced a substantial level of growth, and its leadership sees the new center as a key way to continue that growth.
“We have benefited from the tremendous industrial and manufacturing growth from capital projects happening nationwide, but we have been somewhat hindered in our own growth by the limited skilled and trained workforce in this area,” says EnviroSep president Tim Tilley. “The Georgetown Center for Advanced Manufacturing will provide us with a larger pool of highly skilled, qualified employees.”
Bob Meltzer, chief operating officer of Peddinghaus Corporation, agrees.
"The Georgetown Center for Advanced Manufacturing will increase the opportunities for Peddinghaus and all the other local manufacturers to better their workforces with highly trained, top-notched welders and machinists,” Meltzer says. "The need for skilled employees that this facility will produce is overwhelming right now, and not just in our immediate area, but around the country. I hear this from every customer and manufacturing business I speak with."
The Georgetown Center for Advanced Manufacturing is projected to support more than $14 million in new capital investment in the community over the next five years.
The new 30,000 square foot facility will be home to advanced welding technologies, machine tool technology, and the mechatronics technology programs. Mechatronics is a new program at HGTC and will be unique to the Georgetown Campus. Students in the mechatronics program will learn the fundamental skills in electronics, mechanical and fluid power and automated controls commonly found in the manufacturing industry. Graduates of this associate degree program will be able to perform a systemic analysis and troubleshoot equipment and machinery utilized in the industry.
The center will house up to 30 welding booths and more than $2 million each in mechatronics and machine tool equipment, including manual and computerized numerical control machines. The $13.5 million building is funded by a federal EDA grant, money from the state capital reserve fund, college funds, and contributions from Georgetown County and the Georgetown County School District.
“The future of the manufacturing industry will be driven by highly skilled workers proficient in the areas of mechatronics, advanced welding technology and computer-controlled machine tools,” says John Thomas, Georgetown County Council Chairman. “The Georgetown Center for Advanced Manufacturing will prepare workers in our community for that future and provide opportunities for people in the Georgetown region to become some of the most sought-after and highly paid workers in America. Georgetown County is proud to support the development of this facility.”
Representative Carl Anderson, HGTC President Marilyn Fore, and Representative Ronnie Sabb with a rendering of the Georgetown Center for Advanced Manufacturing.
Representative Carl Anderson, a proud graduate of Horry-Georgetown Technical College, is grateful for the commitment of community leaders to make this facility a reality.
“Georgetown needs this facility,” he says. “I want to thank President Fore and the entire staff at HGTC, as well as the Georgetown County School District and Georgetown County for making this a reality for our citizens.”
“The Georgetown Center for Advanced Manufacturing will help us support existing industry leaders like Peddinghaus, EnviroSep, Saferack, Liberty Steel, 3V Sigma, and more, and it will help us bring new businesses to our area by providing a ready-to-work skilled labor market. These graduates will be able to go to work immediately in high paying jobs.”
The Georgetown Center for Advanced Manufacturing isn’t just for college students. All programs will also be offered through the HGTC Technical Scholars Program, which allows qualified high school students to take college courses that count towards high school and college credit. This facilitates a smooth transition to college and career while also providing significant savings in tuition cost.
Local companies will also be able to utilize the facility for customized training for their existing employees.
Workforce development funds, South Carolina Lottery Tuition Assistance Program funds, SC Wins funds, financial aid, and scholarships will all help students pay for their education.
“If you have the desire to better yourself and enter this field, we’ll help you get there, not only with the training, but with the tremendous amount of financial resources available to help you complete the programs,” says program chair Jeff Ball.
“With the existing workforce approaching retirement age, the demand for skilled tradespeople in this field is extremely high. Our job placement rate is 100%, and many of our graduates land jobs before they even graduate.”
Graduates of the manufacturing programs can expect to make an hourly rate of $16 to $21, and may begin earning a $60,000 salary within five years of employment.
Representative Ronnie Sabb, a lifelong resident of Williamsburg County, has witnessed the evolution of manufacturing in South Carolina for decades.
Congressman Tom Rice toured HGTC’s Conway Advanced Manufacturing Center in February 2019 and touted its ability to enable students to get high paying jobs and achieve their career goals.
“I am so delighted about the direction our state is heading in and the role Georgetown County and HGTC is playing in it,” he says. “My mother received training for a manufacturing job through the CEDAR program as a seamstress. We are now manufacturing airplanes and automobiles and this new manufacturing center will give people the skills needed for those jobs.”
"As more and more diverse industries open their doors in our region, we need to be sure our workforce is equipped with the training to fill high-skilled jobs,” says Congressman Tom Rice. “The new Georgetown Center for Advanced Manufacturing will play a vital role in connecting people in our community with exciting new opportunities in the manufacturing field and our local economy will reap the benefits. It will be game-changing for this region.”
Classes begin August 26. To learn more and enroll, visit www.hgtc.edu/manufacturing or contact Julie Golden, assistant provost of the Georgetown Campus, at 843-520-1476.