Editorial: What is our limit?
Editorial - You can drive out Hwy 72 North, past Clinton High School, headed toward Whitmire, and on the left you will pass a big building with a blue stripe.
If you turn in and stop, get out of the car and look at it just right, on just the right kind of summer day, you will see a brilliant blue sky above its roof.
That is how Clinton feels today.
The sky - truly - is the limit.
The June 28 announcement by GE Renewable Energy in New York that it will buy the building you’re looking at, gives us that feeling. Never before has Clinton been partnered with a company like this.
GE Renewable Energy is a $10 million start-up. Its parent company, General Electric, is one of the most respected brands in the world. Innovative, cutting edge technology has emerged from GE for many decades. As its name implies, the company is a leader in electrical energy and, of course, it wants its market share in anything electrical. That includes the “new horizon” energy sources wind and water.
That’s where Clinton comes in. If we embrace this opportunity in the right way, our City can be a model for the research and development of the next generation of wind power for the world. We have the chance to welcome some of the world’s best engineers if not to live here, at least to work here.
And, really, it’s mostly because one day our former City Manager Frank Stovall said to the City Council, it’s time for us to stop waiting for the county or the state to drop an industry in our laps. The City Council authorized a partnership that got the spec building - remember, that 75,000 sq. ft. building with the blue stripe and the sky-high ceiling - built and sold. The City still has work to do out there, but the GE announcement gives us the push to do it. We have a development-ready pad next door. We have abundant land next to the spec building. We even have a place where GE Renewable Energy could erect its own high-power, research wind turbine, visible from I-26.
The Peach-oid water tower of Gaffney and the Egg-oid water tower of Newberry now may, at last, have some competition for the “whoas!” of passers-by.
Take economic development out of the equation. Our State Champion Science Olympiad Team could have a legitimately techno-powerful partner. We want a STEM lab in our school district? Here’s a company that could add to its expertise and prestige.
Our resident institution, Presbyterian College, has a chance for partnership with a global-reach company. Yes, we realize that GE Renewable Energy is not General Electric; it’s a start-up with all the risk and potential that word implies. But wouldn’t a PC science major’s resume look awesome with the notation, “Oh, by the way, I interned at GE.”
We understand that GE is going to be hit from all sides with “donate to this, donate to that” requests, and we’re not suggesting we should all flock out there and introduce ourselves, with an “Oh, by the way ...” hand out. We have to let them settle in first. ZF Transmission in Gray Court/Owings took a period of community evaluation before it started community outreach, and now it’s a powerhouse for Laurens County. These things will take time.
However, who knows how much time the renewable energy bubble has? Once oil rigs start going up off the coast of Myrtle Beach, can wind turbines be far behind? Better to be at the forefront, than playing catch up.
This time next year, Clinton will have a wind-power research facility, and Clinton-Joanna will have a solar-power farm. Our new generation of “what we’re known for” has arrived. The sun, the wind - we are only limited by the height of our sky.