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Editorial: Why economic development is so important
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Today’s announcement that HBD Industries is closing down its Thermoid plant in Elgin is an important reminder about why aggressively working on economic development is necessary.

It is, apparently, much easier to lose an industry -- in this case, one that manufactures power transmission belts -- than it is to recruit one.

Economic development, therefore, must be about recruiting new industries, as well as expanding existing ones, to not just replace job losses (a little more than 50, according to one of Thermoid's vice presidents), but to grow the overall number of jobs in the county.

It’s hard work. It’s costly work. It’s time-consuming work. It’s work that, if successful, could pay for itself many times over.

At the same time, nothing is ever certain. A generation could go by without any seeming advances. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, and try as hard as we can to land those “whales.”

While we’re working in that vein and waiting (the hardest thing of all), let’s also do all we can to invite smaller companies from across all sectors into the county. Let’s make sure budding entrepreneurs of all ages right here at home have what they need to make a go of it.

The economic health of the county relies on all kinds of industry and businesses, from the giants to the mom-and-pops. So, while we understand why the county is floating $17 million in bond funds in the hopes of bringing in billions, there are other avenues to explore.

In Camden, residents and visitors are looking forward to Marshalls, Hobby Lobby, Petsense, Lowcountry Urgent Care, a memory care/assisted living center, and a yet-to-be-named boutique hotel, not to mention a regional visitors center. There’s a new Bojangles going up in Elgin, giving the IGA there a chance to expand and we hear the nearby Food Lion’s been renovating. Mid-Carolina Credit Union’s new headquarters is rising in Lugoff. There’s probably more we could name.

Yes, we lament the closing of Thermoid -- which is especially hard on the people who will no longer have jobs -- and, yes, we continue to wonder why we haven’t had a major new industry come here in many years.

Let’s roll up our proverbial sleeves, though, and get to work making all the pieces of the economic puzzle fit together so that our children and grandchildren will want to continue living and working in this All-America City community called Kershaw County.

(The online version of this editorial provides the correct number of employees current at Thermoid, which the C-I obtained after the page on which the editorial was printed went to press.)