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County officials traveling to China

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Four companies, including Keer, on trip itinerary

By Chris Sardelli

 Christopher Sardelli

csardelli@thelancasternews.com 

A team of county officials are hoping a 10-day economic development related trip to China and Taiwan could reap benefits for the future of Lancaster County. 

Heading overseas for the trip, which began April 4 and ends April 13, are Lancaster County Economic Development Corp. President Keith Tunnell, Elaine McKinney, LCEDC’s director of business retention, expansion and grants, Lancaster County Councilmen Larry McCullough and Brian Carnes, as well as LCEDC board of directors member Steve Gedney and several representatives from the S.C. Department of Commerce. 

Hours before their flight overseas, McKinney discussed the main focus of the trip, for the group to meet with representatives from Keer Group, a Chinese industrial cotton yarn manufacturer. 

The company announced in 2013 its intention to construct a 230,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on a 140-acre tract of land along Old Bailes Road in Indian Land. 

McKinney’s group will also meet with representatives from a few other Asian companies interested in possibly moving to Lancaster County. 

The group’s first stop is Shanghai, which is China’s largest city, followed by a visit to Hangzhou in eastern China where Keer Group’s headquarters is located. There, they will tour Keer’s facilities. 

From there they’ll travel to the northern China city of Tianjin and meet with a company that, for now, has been simply dubbed ‘Project Cel.’ One of their last stops will be in Taipei, located in Taiwan, where they’ll have a meeting with a company dubbed only as ‘Project Kingwhale.’ 

Keer Group had a similar code name (Project Vino) prior to the company’s announcement it was moving to Lancaster County, though the code names do not guarantee a company will move to the area. 

“I’m very excited, we’re all very excited. It’s going to be a good trip and there are quite a lot of meetings with folks who are quite interested in Lancaster County,” McKinney said. “We’ve got a full trip. There’s lots to do over there, but this is the bulk of what we do. Marketing the county is most of what we do.”

McCullough was busy Thursday, April 3, packing his bags and readying himself for the 18-hour flight to China.

He was looking forward to first being able to tour Keer’s existing manufacturing facilities and then having to chance to speak with representatives from other prospective companies.

“There are three other companies we’re looking at who have expressed a great deal of interest in Lancaster County,” McCullough said. “It’s exciting about all the interest we have of international people in Lancaster County.”

He mentioned several other foreign companies which have located in this area, including Fancy Pokket, which is constructing its first U.S.-expansion in the county’s new Air-Rail Park, as well as Continental Tire, whose North American headquarters is located in Indian Land.

“Now we’ve got Keer America coming in. It’s an exciting time,” he said.

For Carnes, the trip will also help establish relationships with the members of each of the companies they are meeting with. 

“There are four companies that have expressed an interest in possibly locating a facility in Lancaster County, Carnes said. “One thing we’ve learned in the process with Keer is that Chinese companies base a lot of decision-making factors on the relationship with people they are working with. A big part of their culture is making that connection.” 

Both McCullough and Carnes have traveled to Asia before. 

“I hope I add value to the trip because I’ve been there before and I’ve got a little bit of experience under my belt,” Carnes said. 

He hopes the company meetings will go well and that some of the companies eventually decide to move their operations within Lancaster County. 

“I told people if we get just one out of the four companies it’d be fantastic. Two out of four would be mind-blowing,” he said. 

 

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416