In 1954 an Italian consortium developed the large Saiccor industrial cellulose plant beside the river a short distance inland from the town. A large number of Italian immigrants and workers, mostly from the region of Friuli, followed suit, and the result is that Umkomaas probably had the largest Italian community relative to its total population of any town in Southern Africa.
Saiccor Village was established on the south western side of the Umkomaas golf course, in order to house these workers.
To this day, Umkomaas has a strong Italian flavour, with many of these workers choosing to stay on and settle in South Africa. The Italian Club welcomes visitors from all over the world, and has retained the "Italian Connection" in the town.