Positive economic indicators do exist

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By The Staff

Got the blues about the economy? You’re not alone. A lot of folks are feeling stressed, anxious and, yes, depressed about the recession.

But please don’t shoot spitballs at us because we’re messengers of bad news. We want the economy to get out of this rut, because we’re affected by tough times, too. Unfortunately, in the past week or so, there has been more bad economic news to report.

AbitibiBowater, which makes coated paper for magazines and books and market pulp for paper towels, tissue and other products, announced last week that it was extending furloughs for about 123 employees until the end of April. The plant, just across the Lancaster County line, employs many local residents.

Soliant LLC in Lancaster recently confirmed that it had laid off some employees. The company declined to say how many employees were laid off, just that the move was due to the economy. Soliant produces adhesive paint film used by major automakers such as General Motors, Toyota and Honda.

There was also bad news from the S.C. Employment Security Commission, which announced last week that the state’s jobless rate in February rose seven-tenths of a point to 11 percent, the highest jobless rate in the state since March 1983, and the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation. Here in Lancaster County, the jobless rate climbed to 18.4 percent in February, up 0.9 percent from January. The jobless rate here is the seventh-highest in the state.

But there was some very good economic news among the bad. Continental Tire opened its new headquarters, a $11 million facility in Indian Land. All the 375 jobs are transfer jobs from Charlotte, but 123 of the employees who work there live in Lancaster and York counties. According to company executives, Continental Tire should pay about $3 million to the county in the next decade. The company also noted that the facility here is on a parcel that is prime for expansion, which means more employees could be coming here when the economy starts rolling.

Also in Indian Land, Harris Teeter opened a  53,000-square-foot store at Carolina Commons shopping center on March 18. Comporium, UPS Store, Quiznos, Great Clips, Salon Salon, Beautiful Nails, AAA Insurance and Gentle Care Cleaners are all opening up stores at the new shopping center, too.

By summertime, Walgreens is planning to open a 14,820-square foot store at  Jim Wilson Road and Charlotte Highway in Indian Land. And Lowe’s is planning to open a 103,000-square-foot home-improvement store – a $12 million investment – in Indian Land within a few months.

All this shows that the boom hasn’t busted in the county’s Panhandle, but business growth isn’t exclusive to Indian Land. Entrepreneurs are opening or expanding businesses in and around the city of Lancaster and other parts of the county, too.

Founders Federal Credit Union, which is based in Lancaster, has one of the biggest building projects under way in the county right now – it’s building its new headquarters – a $33 million investment of new facilities at Plantation and Gillsbrook roads.

If thoughts about the economy are getting you down, look to the businesses that are investing in Lancaster County right now. It’s a sign of their faith that better times are ahead. And it’s a reminder to us that better times are, indeed, ahead.