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JR Automation to build plant at Pickens Commerce Park

Published: September 2, 2016

Greenville News - Ron Barnett

Pickens County technology students, county incentives, and a box of South Carolina peaches.

Those were the clinchers that sealed the deal with JR Automation Technologies in investing $3.4 million to build a plant that will employ 88 and create 56 new jobs.

The company, which manufactures machinery and equipment that helps other manufacturers improve their efficiency, will begin construction soon a 50,000-square-foot facility on a 150,000-square-foot site at the Pickens County Commerce Park near Liberty, according to CEO Bryan Jones.

Completion is expected in April, and jobs there are expected to pay $20 to $48 an hour. For information about jobs, go to www.jrauto.com/Careers.

The Michigan-based company first came to Pickens County in 2011 and has been operating out of rented facilities, drawn by hearing good reports about students who were coming out of the Pickens County School District’s Career & Technology Center, county officials said.

JR has been using students at the county career center as interns since it started, and many of them have moved into regular full-time jobs at the temporary site, Jones said.

"Their dedication to what they do is fantastic," he said.

The company decided about eight months ago to expand and put down permanent roots in the county, said Ray Farley, executive director of Alliance Pickens, the county’s economic development arm.

The company's "candy store of technology" could be a benefit to other manufacturers in the county Commerce Park, he said.

"When I see the growth of JR Automation Technologies, LLC, it reminds me of how we plant a seed in a flower pot," County Councilman Ensley Feemster said. "We water it and fertilize it and out pops a seedling.

"Now that seedling is overflowing the pot."

Immediately prior to the announcement of its new facility, County Council approved incentives, including a fee-in-lieu-of taxes agreement and the property and site work for the new plant.

Farley said he and Jones celebrated over a box of peaches back when the company first came to the county five years ago. He presented Jones with a box of peaches Monday to celebrate the expansion.