The world’s biggest family-owned winery—California-based E&J Gallo—is heading southeast, with construction to begin imminently on a $423 million production and distribution center on 650 acres in the small, economically depressed mill town of Fort Lawn in Chester County, South Carolina.
“Gallo’s investment will transform Chester County and contribute greatly to South Carolina’s economic prosperity,” said Governor Henry McMaster.
This will be Gallo’s first industrial facility on the U.S. East Coast, providing bottling, canning, warehousing, distribution, and is expected to create close to 500 jobs, along with being the company’s hub for import/export operations in that part of the country.
Chester County is in proximity to the Port of Charleston, a top ten U.S. container port by TEU (twenty-foot-equivalent units).
“South Carolina Ports is thrilled to be an integral part of E. & J. Gallo Winery’s global supply chain,” said SC Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome.
Short line service for Gallo’s Fort Lawn operation will be supplied by The Lancaster & Chester Railroad, part of the Gulf & Ohio Railways.
“Knowing the selection criteria for this project required access to both Class I rail networks and excellent daily service, we were pleased to help them locate a great site,” said Gulf & Ohio Railways Chief Business Development Officer Matt Gedney.
The first phase of the project is reportedly on track to be completed by October 2022.
South Carolina has been busy helping to lay the foundation for Gallo’s project. The Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved job development credits related to the project. A $16 million Rural Infrastructure Fund grant was also awarded to Chester County to assist with costs.
In addition, last month, the S.C. Department of Commerce received authorization for $8 million in bonds to offset costs of off-site mitigation under the Economic Development Bond Act.
“We could not be more appreciative of the collaboration and support shown by the state of South Carolina, the South Carolina Department of Commerce, and those in Chester County along with all of the public and private entities who have embraced this project throughout the planning process and have welcomed us to the community,” said Gallo CEO, Ernest J. Gallo.