The Promise Zone Initiative was created in 2013 as a plan to create a better bargain for the middle-class by partnering with local communities and businesses to create jobs, increase economic security, and expand educational opportunities among other things. There are only 22 federally designated Promise Zones across the U.S. including a cluster of six rural counties in the southern tip of South Carolina – home to 90,000 people, almost 30% of whom live in Poverty – known as the SC Lowcountry Promise Zone.
SWISS KRONO Group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of wood-based materials. The company’s U.S. subsidiary established operations in Non-Metropolitan Barnwell County, the county with the largest population located within the SC Lowcountry Promise Zone and a Persistent Poverty County, in 2005 and quickly became one of the county’s largest employers with 167 employees. Our $11.25 million investment allowed the undertaking of a 250,000 sq. ft. expansion of SWISS KRONO’s existing facility to include the construction of a new multi-density fiberboard manufacturing line, ancillary wood yard, energy plant and waste treatment facilities, and the installation of a fourth laminate flooring line.
In addition to growing their payroll by 105 employees, SWISS KRONO has invested heavily in training and re-skilling the residents of Barnwell County through a youth apprenticeship program which allows SWISS KRONO to offer qualified high school students the opportunity to learn a specific skill or trade and to gain valuable work experience and a College Co-Op Program that allows them to partner with local and surrounding technical schools which provide programs that align with the skills and trades utilized in their operations. The College Co-Op Program allows an active student to fulfill his or her academic requirement for on the job training (OJT) while working with SWISS KRONO as a temporary employee.
“The SC Lowcountry Promise Zone is an area of rural South Carolina that has not seen the recent economic gains the rest of the state has and helping this area’s existing employers like SWISS KRONO expand and grow is an important part of turning that around.”
– Danny Black, President and CEO of the Southern Carolina Regional Development Alliance, the lead organization of the SC Promise Zone