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“We offer big-city dreams with a small-town appeal,” said John Hastings Sr., president and CEO of the Fountain Inn Chamber of Commerce. This town that calls itself “The Front Porch of the Upstate” has been expanding its industry thanks to its desirable location and transportation, “while maintaining the integrity of that small-town feel,” he added.

“If you move here, you’ll have an easy drive to and from work. Yet if you want the feel of big-city life, we’re just 15 minutes from Greenville.”

Though Fountain Inn itself consists of a homey 8,000-plus population, the Greenville metro area is home to more than 400,000. That makes it the third-largest and fastest-growing urban area in South Carolina.

Fountain Inn’s transportation resources are near ideal. Located in the fast-growing “Golden Strip” extending along Interstate 385 through northeastern South Carolina, Fountain Inn is just 15 miles via that superhighway from Greenville; less than a half hour from Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport; and just a 90-minute drive along interstates from the state capital of Columbia. The town’s industrial park also offers rail service.

The Greenlink Transit bus service reaches along I-85 from downtown Greenville to the outskirts of Fountain Inn, and talks are underway to extend that service to Fountain Inn proper.

“This whole region of the country is growing,” Hastings noted. “We’re just about halfway between Charlotte and Atlanta, and about four hours from the Atlantic coast.”

City of Industry

After Fountain Inn was officially incorporated as a South Carolina city on Christmas Eve 1886, its economy centered largely on farming and textile mills. But as the American textile industry dried up, a variety of other manufacturers moved in to replace those – many having to do with the auto industry.

Tower International, a Tier 1 auto tire supplier and leading integrated global manufacturer of engineered structural metal components and assembles, has announced that it will invest $44 million in its Fountain Inn facility. That is expected to create 100 or more new jobs.

Yanfeng Automotive Interiors, the world’s largest supplier of automotive interior components, recently established a production base at a 365,000-square-foot Fountain Inn plant that it acquired from Faurecia SA. Yanfeng then spent $70 million to expand the factory by 100,000 square feet, adding 35 new jobs.

Bosch Rexroth has operated a hydraulics production plant in Fountain Inn since 1989. Beginning in 2013, the company has invested $80 million in a five-year project to expand its production and convert an existing 260,000-square-foot industrial warehouse into a modern manufacturing and assembly plant. The facility now encompasses more than 100 acres of land and employs 700 people.

Other major companies that have committed to Fountain Inn and the adjoining Golden Strip include Continental Automotive Systems Inc., Michelin, ZF Fredrickshafen, W.W. Grainger and Bi-Lo, to name just a few. One of the newest, Lowe’s Foods, opened about five miles away in 2017.

Growing population

Fountain Inn has been sustaining a steady but gradual growth in population, from the official 2010 census figure of 7,449 to the estimated 2016 total of 7,980 to a projected 2021 figure of 8,556.

Most people live in single-family homes. But a supply of 350 market-rate apartment units is being reinforced by a new 396-unit market-rate apartment project being built near Highway 418 and Interstate 385.

The median age is 37.1. Household income averages a healthy $55,000 a year.

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