Several years of planning, followed by a year of construction, three months of employee training and test runs, in addition to seven weeks of production, culminated in the ribbon-cutting last Thursday and a grand opening Saturday of the Nestle Waters bottling plant.
Nearly 1,000 people enjoyed the festivities at the grand opening of the facility, which is located one-half mile southeast of McBee on S.C. Highway 151.
This free family-friendly event included tours of the new facility, a barbecue and hotdog lunch, face-painting and ice cream, in addition to prize drawings.
Four score guests from the local area, including state, county and municipal office-holders, in addition to leaders from public education, the private sector and the media were on hand at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Nestle Waters North America President and Chief Executive Tim Brown, who has been with the company for 30 years, flew in from Connecticut and mingled with the guests for a couple of hours.
Since late February, the plant, which is operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, has been shipping bottled water to wholesale distribution centers throughout the Carolinas and neighboring states.
Fifty-nine full-time employees were hired, which is about 30 percent more than the projected 45 jobs in the initial planning. According to plant manager Tom Strowe, a little over half, or 33, of these employees reside in Chesterfield and Darlington counties, while three-fourths of the employees live within a 60-mile radius of the plant. The annual payroll is about $2 million with wages and a benefit package in the top quarter of the area work force within a 60-mile radius.
The four-and-one-half acre plant was constructed on a 60-acre tract that is part of the new 497-acre Alligator Industrial Park. Based on demand, a range of 60-100 truckloads of bottled water is departing the plant daily for regional distribution.
During the year-long construction phase, there were about 310 jobs with a direct labor income of about $10.3 million, an average of $33,000 per employee.
The usage from the Swift Springs site will average about 216,000 gallons per day for the regular water processed line at the McBee plant, while Nestle is buying an additional daily average of 288,000 GPD from Alligator for the purified water line.
Nearly $400,000 in annual property taxes is expected to be generated annually for the local government and school district. The approximate breakdown will be $126,500 for the county coffers and $272,000 for Chesterfield County School District.