There are lots of questions circulating in both Georgia and South Carolina as to why certain businesses are closed, while others are open. An area of industry that continues to be a topic of discussion is manufacturing plants, many of which are still operating during the COVID-19 crisis.
Economic Development Partnership serves Aiken, Edgfield, Saluda and McCormick Counties. On Wednesday, we talked to EDP President Will Williamson about how factories in South Carolina are adapting to the challenges created by COVID-19.
Williams pointed out that many employees in local factories are already required to wear protective gear and companies have increase sanitation methods recently.
“Some of the companies that we have are pharmaceutical producers and food producers so they’ve got excellent hygiene, but they’re being extra diligent with those kinds of activities in the facilities,” Williams says.
Some are fearful of the health risk involved for the factories that are still operational. Williams says some plants are manufacturing items that are integral in the face of a pandemic. One example he gave, Kimberly Clark in Beech
“So many of these manufacturers produce things that we all need today and so you’re going to purchase those products, those employees are going to get paid and those employees are going to use what they make to buy things so the economy can continue to move, albeit at a slower pace, but we won’t just come to a complete standstill,” Williams says.
Disruptions to the supply chain from China have affected some industries in Aiken and the surrounding counties, but from what Williams has noticed, the impact has not been as drastic as other parts of the country.
“Several companies have already temporarily closed their operations down not just out of caution, but also because market conditions have softened,” Williams says.
According to Williams, there are several manufacturing facilities that are in the process of re-tooling their operations to help with the COVID-19 crisis.
“Minority Filters in Edgfield County, they produce filtration bags,” Williams says. “They may be able to convert over and make things to help in filtration of air in hospitals.”
To those of you who are struggling without a job right now, Williams knows of at least 2 local factories that are hiring.
Williams suspects that the negative changes forcing the manufacturing industry to rapidly adapt will have a positive impact in the long run.