AGRICULTURAL CAMPUS PROJECTED TO BE LOWCOUNTRY GAME-CHANGER
South Carolina’s newest “hotspot” — a 1,000-acre tract drawing international attention from as far away as Japan — is about an hour’s drive from Hilton Head.
In rural Early Branch, a few miles from I-95 in Hampton County, futuristic-minded farmers, scientists, techies, environmentalists and government leaders are cooking up the farm of the tomorrow.
They intend to deliver a farm “under glass” that will combine greenhouses, processing, packing and distribution for an array of products — from peppers to pesto.
The results, they predict, will be thousands of jobs, increased market opportunities for the state’s traditional farmers, and enhanced food security for America’s East Coast.
The project’s ripple effect is expected to stir economic development along the I-95 corridor through Jasper and Beaufort counties to the Port of Savannah.
Economic development pros in the Lowcountry and Columbia say the project – the Agricultural Technology Campus — is a vital part of an expanding mosaic of technology, manufacturing, agriculture, life sciences, logistics, warehousing and shipping.
Taken together, the initiatives form a potentially potent economic supplement to South Carolina’s pandemic-vulnerable tourism and hospitality industry.
“The sheer size of this project in terms of capital investment, wages and job creation will have a game-changing impact on this entire region, and the project is already attracting interest from other agribusiness companies engaged in both research and development,” said Danny Black, president and chief executive of the Barnwell-based Southern Carolina Regional Development Alliance, serving the counties of Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, Allendale, Bamberg, Colleton and Barnwell.
The project is a target of interest among farming, engineering and technology companies in the U.S., Europe and Japan, said Kay Maxwell, vice-president of marketing for the Alliance.