CHARLESTON - They're hailing it as an economic development - possibly the first of many - that could help set the region's alternative energy industry spinning.
Months after plans emerged for a $98 million wind turbine test facility in North Charleston, a German company called IMO Group plans to open a 190-worker factory near Summerville to make circular metal rings that help a turbine spin.
Company officials plan to open the $47 million facility in a vacant warehouse in McQueen Industrial Park in July. They'll ship their parts to existing wind turbine manufacturers that are now scattered across the country, but they're betting that those companies will eventually open operations in North Charleston to be near the research facility.
Recession-weary elected leaders and economic development officials embraced the announcement. Latest figures on the state's high unemployment rate - which hit a record of 12.6 percent in December - will be released today.
"There's an energy in this room that hasn't been here in a while," David Ginn, president of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, told a gathering of more than 100 business leaders and government officials.