One Berkeley County town is getting a revival, thanks to Viva Holdings Group, Inc. The company announced Thursday a $28 million dollar investment into a new recycling manufacturing plant in St. Stephen, creating hundreds of jobs.
County leaders referred to the new plant as "Project Revival."
"We had major plants here that left and left us with an employment deficit," Mayor John Rivers, said, "This will greatly enhance the employment situation here in town."
In a special flag-raising ceremony Thursday, Viva Holdings Group, Inc. announced plans to renovate a 177,000 sq. ft. industrial site located at 315 Ravenell Dr. in St. Stephen. The plant will initially create 200 jobs, with the potential to create 384 long term. It's a much-needed economic boost, according to county representatives.
"This is an area that has been primarily ignored with economic development in previous years," Berkeley County supervisor Bill Peagler said. "We're hoping this is going to be a foothold to come in and give new life to St. Stephen and give new hope to individuals who haven't had a job in so long."
According to the latest state data available from 2012, the average income in St. Stephen is approximately $14,000.
"I'm most excited about knowing this factory will be re-opened again and be an opportunity for our young kids...to work and earn pay," St. Stephen resident Reginald Gerald said.
Viva President and CEO Marty Sergei said the company has already hired around a dozen people from the town.
"This is an area that hasn't been tapped. The good quality people in this area aren't using their skills," Sergei said. "We've already hired a dozen or so folks from St. Stephen, fantastic people, hardworking. All we need to do is get a couple hundred more, and we'll have a very successful company."
According to a press release, Viva’s proprietary technologies use a combination of recycled rubber and recycled plastics from post-industrial and post-consumer sources. The products Viva creates at the St. Stephen location will be sold in the U.S. and exported to China.
The official start of employee hiring is scheduled for late 2016; the plant opening is set for early next year.