More than $1M invested in growth of Dorchester auto industry

DORCHESTER COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced on Friday a $1.38 million U.S. Economic Development Administration grant to Dorchester County to build a water reclamation facility that will support the expansion of a local auto supplier that plans to produce next generation automotive parts, bolstering the region's automotive industry cluster.

The project is expected to create 285 jobs and generate $126 million in private investment, according to grantee estimates.

"Encouraging innovation and bringing new technologies to the marketplace are critical to creating jobs and improving our nation's economic competitiveness," Locke said. "This EDA grant will support high-skill, living-wage jobs in Dorchester County by providing the infrastructure needed to help local businesses grow, including a major automotive supplier that is contributing to the development of the region's automotive cluster."

"This investment is an example of the important role EDA continues to play in adding jobs in the automotive industry and assisting automotive communities," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, who is also co-chair of the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers. "By leveraging both federal and private investments, the automotive industry will continue to be an important part of American manufacturing."

The project will make infrastructure improvements needed to convert the existing Lower Dorchester Wastewater Treatment Plant into a water reclamation facility.  The new facility will allow Robert Bosch, LLC, a tier one automotive supplier, to expand its operations to produce the next generation of automotive parts, including diesel fuel injectors, chassis systems controls, and gasoline direct injectors.  The water reclamation facility will provide an environmentally sustainable source of reclaimed water and an estimated 40-45 percent cost reduction on water resources, enabling the expansion of the region's automotive industry cluster.

The Obama administration's immediate action on behalf of the auto industry in 2009 provided necessary aid to GM and Chrysler, helping the two giants and their vast supplier network get back to business.  In June 2009, President Barack Obama created the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers to provide attention directly to those affected by the downturn in the auto industry.  Since auto companies have gotten back on their feet, the industry has added more than 71,700 jobs.

Information provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce