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Chester County factory sparks hope for manufacturing jobs

A Chinese company’s announcement that it will invest $45 million into a new facility in Chester County, S.C., has raised hopes in a county with 11.6 percent unemployment.

JN Fibers Inc., a manufacturer of recycled polyester staple fiber products, is establishing a manufacturing facility in Richburg, about 40 miles south of Charlotte. Officials say the company will bring 318 new jobs.

County Supervisor Carlisle Roddey said other “lookers,” including representatives from the manufacturing and textile industry, have considered Chester County for an expansion or a new facility.

The trend leads Roddey to believe that, perhaps, “jobs are coming back.”

Chester County took a hit when its textile companies shut down or moved, taking with them thousands of jobs, he said. So Wednesday’s official announcement – something Roddey has been working on for a few weeks – was, he said, like something “from heaven.”

The company is renovating an existing building and hopes to begin hiring next summer, with the plant opening in the fall of 2014.

“We are pleased by the opportunity to establish new operations in Chester County,” Mark Bachner, senior vice president of operations for JN Fibers, said in a statement. “South Carolina is the perfect fit for our business’ needs. With an excellent business environment and access to markets, as well as top-notch workforce talent, we look forward to getting our operations in Richburg up and running.”

The company is headquartered in Zhejiang, in eastern China.

The new plant will recycle discarded soda and water bottles and transform them into recycled polyester staple fibers for use in home textiles, furniture, upholstery and automotive industries.

Chester County approved a fee-in-lieu of tax agreement for the company, and the state Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved a rural infrastructure grant of $800,000 for the development.

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