Titanium Maker Revives Plans for the Upstate
A technical center at CU-ICAR in Mauldin and a planned mill in Laurens County would create more than 300 jobs.
Chicago-based American Titanium Works this week said plans are back on to establish its base of operations here in the Upstate.
Those plans, initially hatched more than four years ago, include construction of a manufacturing facility in Laurens County that would employ about 320 people, as well as building a research-and-development center on the outskirts of Mauldin at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR). The center at CU-ICAR would employ dozens of engineers.
The company's $500 million project withered and was placed on hold in 2008 in the midst of a crippling recession that caused capital markets to dry up, making financing the project impossible at the time.
On Tuesday, however, the company accepted a combined $860,000 from the state's South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) and private investors from the Greenville-based Upstate Carolina Angel Network (UCAN) to be used as bridge funding to help the company re-enter capital markets and raise the half-billion dollars it needs.
The company has not set a timetable for construction, but reiterated its intent to locate to the Upstate.
"The support of organizations such as SCRA, UCAN and so many others has reinforced our decision to locate here and move forward," American Titanium CEO Thomas Sax said in a statement. "We reviewed multiple sites and locations for this project and South Carolina truly stood out…. We are delighted to call South Carolina home."
ICAR spokeswoman Suzanne Dickerson said the titanium manufacturer is a terrific fit for South Carolina, which boasts a well-established auto industry and a growing airline industry, thanks to BMW, Boeing, and their statewide network of suppliers.
The titanium industry serves the medical device, aerospace, automotive and other large markets, but producing the exceptionally strong and lightweight metal is expensive. American Titanium's technology, however, allows the company to shorten manufacturing times and assure customers just-in-time delivery, thereby reducing costs.
American Titanium picked CU-ICAR for a research facility to take advantage of its community of graduate-student researchers and experts in automotive systems, including faculty members who have focused on titanium technology, Dickerson told the Anderson Independent-Mail newspaper.
"UCAN is very pleased to help advance such a significant project for the Upstate. We believe ATW has developed a compelling approach to meet a tremendous market need, and we look forward to seeing the company bring its vision to life — along with a significant long-term economic impact to South Carolina," said Matt Dunbar, UCAN’s Managing Director.
"ATW and its planned capabilities are extremely promising for SC’s knowledge economy, particularly for positioning our state to supply titanium to global automotive and aerospace markets," added SCRA CEO Bill Mahoney.