Beleaguered Fairfield County is losing another 126 jobs after TV-maker Element Electronics said Monday it will close its Winnsboro plant in response to tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump.
The layoffs come a year after Cayce-based SCE&G and state-owned Santee Cooper canceled their decadelong effort to build two nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville, putting 5,000 construction workers out of work and wiping away a promised economic boon to the poor, rural county.
Element’s announcement also comes a year after Fairfield County’s last textile mill closed, eliminating 200 more jobs.
“When you think you’ve reached rock bottom, to get kicked in the gut like this, you didn’t think anything more could happen,” said state Sen. Mike Fanning, D-Fairfield. “Within 365 days, you just get rocked to your core.”
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Element was one of Fairfield’s largest remaining employers, two years after its largest grocery store, Walmart, shuttered its doors.
In a letter to the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce obtained by The State, Element wrote “the layoff and closure is a result of the new tariffs that were recently and unexpectedly imposed on many goods imported from China, including the key television components used in our assembly operations in Winnsboro.”
Element said it hoped the closure would be temporary, adding the plant could “re-open in three to six months, but we cannot predict this with any certainty at this time.” The company said layoffs would begin in October.
Trump’s tariffs already have made an impact in manufacturing-heavy South Carolina.
Swedish automaker Volvo has said it may have to break its promise to hire 4,000 employees for a new plant in South Carolina. And German automaker BMW recently wrote U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross saying the tariffs could jeopardize 45,000 S.C. jobs, including 10,000 at its Spartanburg plant and 35,000 at BMW suppliers.
Element, meanwhile, has said it plans to maintain a skeleton crew of eight employees after the layoffs.
Efforts to reach the TV-maker were unsuccessful late Monday.