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The Spartanburg Community College Spark Center SC was an integral player in AWL-Techniek’s decision to invest $2.53 million in a 33,000-square-foot facility and create 71 high-tech jobs.
The company, which produces robotic welding equipment for automotive tier two suppliers in the seating and body segments, established its operations within a vacant building in 2017.
“One of the best things we experienced here was the Spark Center, which helped us to get a temporary office, a temporary address, mailing services, all different kinds of help in that area, and the best thing, it was for free, if we would settle in Spartanburg, which we decided to do,” says Per Blohm, General Manager USA for AWL Automation, whose parent company is AWL-Techniek.
The company used turnkey workspace at the Spark Center SC to build a presence in the region and while working with Spartanburg Economic Futures Group to complete its site selection process. For Blohm, bringing AWL to the Upstate was a second opportunity to leverage the Upstate SC Alliance’s support.
“Actually, when we arrived the first time here, we tried to do it on our own, but we soon discovered that there was a service which we can use to get the foot on the ground, to get settled in,” Blohm says. “We got provided with a lot of support in site selection, we got supported with lawyers and contacts, local contacts, which help us to actually explore the area and also make a positive selection for our company here.”
Blohm says the decision to relocate here was sparked by the Alliance’s “generosity, service, business-forward approach, and their work to recruit companies here. More than government incentives, the support we received from local levels was tremendous. We found a location that fit our needs exactly — a connection to I-85 that was close to BMW and other suppliers.”
After making the leap, Blohm realized the region had even more to offer than anticipated.
“Companies were moving in. Spartanburg Community College was right around the corner, supplying us with scholar tech students, mechanics, and programmers; it was a great help for us to develop our talent pool. We plan to work closely with them to continue developing high-tech education in this area.”
The company also used readySC as a resource to sharpen its employee training process.
Blohm says AWL’s immediate future includes opening a robotics field lab, which will provide training opportunities in laser welding, mechatronics and robotics not widely available in classrooms. “We believe it will be a great opportunity to learn on the real machinery,” he says. “Students can get trained by technicians and engineers, gain more experience, and start a promising career.”
“Our company’s future is very bright,” Blohm adds. “We have a great start for the business here in South Carolina, actually in the United States and North America. The customers accept what we build here, they force us to build more, they force us to increase our business and a lot of customers are also moving into the area. So, the forecast is already extended and adjusted to a much higher number than we originally planned.”