PICKENS - It could have gone the other way, but a lot of people in Pickens are glad that TTI, formerly Ryobi, decided to stay in Pickens and grow its operation.
And to show their appreciation, members of the community, Pickens Chamber, local government and Alliance Pickens held a celebration lunch last Wednesday at the Pickens Recreation Center.
Ray Farley, director of Alliance Pickens County said there was a lot of anxiety and hand wrangling before the announcement was made.
"There's been a lot of hard work over the past several weeks," he said. "Industry in the United States is under attack, but here in our county, we do what we can to fight back."
TTI decision to stay is a reflection of the county's strong business community, according to Pickens Mayor David Owens.
He thanked TTI executives for being a part of the Pickens community and for providing jobs to Pickens.
"This will make a great impact - for the employees and for the city's economy," he said.
County Council chairman Neil Smith said new taxes in China helped in TTI official's decision, but the work ethic of the people in Pickens County also played a great role.
Company officials said the high cost of shipping products across the Pacific and the balance of scheduling between products also played a part in the decision to stay.
According to Doug Newton, senior vice president of Human Resources and Administration, employees at the company have always been willing to take on a new challenge.
And Ed Parris, chairman of Alliance Pickens, agreed.
"It's the finest workforce I've ever worked with," he said. "This plant has a long and storied tradition, and it's touched the lives of everyone in this community."
Rep. Davey Hiott, R-Pickens, said the company should not have trouble filling the new jobs required to build the new product lines they plan to bring to Pickens.
"I don't think you'll be disappointed about the decision you made," he told company officials at the celebration.
Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, also commended everyone who worked on the project for putting aside differences and party lines to work as a team.
As the Sentinel previously reported, TTI North America's decision to stay in Pickens County and add product lines at the plant will bring 152 new jobs to the community.