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groundbreaking ceremony.
Representatives from the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp., South Carolina Department of Commerce, the city of Conway, Teknoware and Horry County Council all did their part to make this project a reality, including moving a little dirt at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Teknoware: Lighting the Way in Horry County

Looking through the line of shovels and hard hats to the bulldozer moving dirt in the background, attendees had the feeling they were witnessing more than a groundbreaking ceremony for a company bringing 45 jobs to the area. In fact, the day was also about teamwork, the end of an era, and the promise of a brighter future for many.

On Nov. 14, 2017, Teknoware, a company founded in Finland in 1972, broke ground on what was the last available parcel in the Atlantic Center, the first commerce park established in Horry County.

This is economic development working as it should.  The Atlantic Center, established in 1987, was a joint venture between Santee Cooper and Horry County and was designed to draw technology and manufacturing to an area in need of jobs and industry. Once Santee Cooper recovered our investment, we turned the commerce park over to Horry County for continued growth.

Left: These hard hats and gold-plated shovels symbolize jobs in Horry County.  Right: Plans are unveiled for the Teknoware building in the Atlantic Center commerce park.
Left: These hard hats and gold-plated shovels symbolize jobs in Horry County.  Right: Plans are unveiled for the Teknoware building in the Atlantic Center commerce park.
Left: These hard hats and gold-plated shovels symbolize jobs in Horry County.  Right: Plans are unveiled for the Teknoware building in the Atlantic Center commerce park.
Left: These hard hats and gold-plated shovels symbolize jobs in Horry County. Right: Plans are unveiled for the Teknoware building in the Atlantic Center commerce park.

Since 1987, companies have come and gone but now Teknoware joins Metglass Inc., Frito Lay, Glendinning Products, Southeastern Paper Group, Chippewa Aerospace, Horry Georgetown Technical College (HGTC), Coastal Carolina University, ABC 15 News and many other businesses that call the Atlantic Center home.

Teknoware produces a wide range of interior lighting for commercial vehicles, bus and transit systems, and emergency lighting systems for businesses, ships and other locations. The manufacturing facility will be approximately 45,000 square feet and will employ at least 45 people with advanced manufacturing skills, including welding. Those hired will average $22 per hour, higher than the Horry County average of just under $17 per hour.

In fact, the availability of skilled students coming out of HGTC was a real piece of the puzzle that fell into place to convince Teknoware to locate in Horry County. 

“When Teknoware visited the Atlantic Center to view the site, one thing they did was visit the students at HGTC. They were impressed with the skills of the students and excited about the availability of trained workers. I know the resources and availability of a school right      here that can train the type of employees they are looking for helped seal the deal,” said    Sandy Davis, vice president and COO of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. (MBREDC).

Josh Kay, president and CEO of MBREDC, spoke of the teamwork between the county, the city of Conway and the South Carolina Department of Commerce. He also said Davis deserves a lot of credit for getting it all wrapped up. “She worked on this deal for about three years. She found solutions to every issue that came up and negotiated with every group involved to complete a deal that was good for everyone.”  Not an easy task with that many entities at the table.

Groundbreaking begins in earnest at the new Teknoware site in Horry County.
Groundbreaking begins in earnest at the new Teknoware site in Horry County.

“We are very excited to see this project coming to life. All of the hard work that got us here today means more than just a new business is in town. It means 45 families will be given the opportunity to work, live and prosper in our community,” said Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy.

And it is not just the 45 jobs that can be celebrated. Teknoware plans to use local machine shops and buy material locally to use in their manufacturing process, bringing additional commerce to the state.

Mark Lazarus, chairman of the Horry County Council, and Johnny Vaught, a member of the Horry County Council, were both on hand to celebrate the groundbreaking. During his speech, Lazarus presented a special gold and blue pin with the county’s symbol, the tree of knowledge, to Mikko Kosonen, president of Teknoware, and said, “Welcome to Team Horry County.”  Vaught said, “Seeing this area (the Atlantic Center) complete is very exciting and a real plus for Horry County.”

“Locating here was just a perfect fit for us,” said Kosonen, who received a welcome from the county, the city, the state and others at the groundbreaking ceremony. He referenced available local business resources, skilled employees and the availability for training them, as well as overall technical support as part of the whole package that sold Teknoware on locating right here in South Carolina.

Teknoware will be located on Century Circle in the Atlantic Center. Construction should be complete in 2018. Those interested in applying should visit scworks.org.