UNION COUNTY — A $300,000 loan to help the Bonham Fire Department build a new fire station is the latest step in the county’s efforts to facilitate the $290 million industrial expansion currently known as “Project Wolverine.”
During a special meeting Tuesday afternoon, Union County Council voted unanimously to loan $300,000 from the Union County Economic Development Fund to the Bonham Fire Department. The department will use the funds to build a new fire station at the corner of Oak Grove Road and US 176. The department will then repay the loan to the county at the rate of $42,857 a year for seven years.
Supervisor Frank Hart said that the loan is part of the county’s efforts to facilitate “Project Wolverine,” a $290 million expansion of a local manufacturing facility which will create 100 new jobs. Hart pointed out that the county’s old fire station, which was located on SC 18, is part of the property the county will transfer to Project Wolverine as part of the incentive package it is offering to facilitate the expansion. He said that the county acquired the site from the department and now with the loan is helping it build its new station and relocate its equipment and operations there.
Bonham’s firefighting equipment and fire trucks are currently locate in the old school bus shop off of SC 18. The department provides fire protect for the residents, businesses, of the Bonham Community, including the Project Wolverine expansion.
The Bonham loan is the latest action taken by council this month to facilitate the Project Wolverine expansion.
At its December meeting earlier this month, council voted unanimously to approve a resolution amending an existing fee-in-lieu of tax agreement and to approve an incentive agreement between the county and Project Wolverine Under the terms of the agreement, the company will spend up to $290,400,000, but not less than $278,200,000 on the expansion of an existing industry and create at least 100 new, full-time equivalent jobs.
To facilitate this expansion, the county will extend the existing fee-in-lieu of tax agreement with the company to cover the expansion which will allow the company to pay a lower property tax rate on the additions to its facility. The county will also provide the company with Infrastructure Improvement Credits covering its investment in the property and infrastructure. The county will also transfer three parcels of land — including the old Bonham Fire Station site — with a total acreage of 3.56 acres northeast of the existing facility to the company along with part of Fire Station Road which runs along the southeastern edge of the county parcels.
In addition, the county also agrees the company leasing and expanding the county spec building as part of its expansion plans. The county sold the building in September to Agracel Inc. of Effingham, Illinois for $1.5 million, allowing it to recoup its investment in the construction of the facility as well as clear nearly $70,000.
While it had all the necessary utilities including power, water, sewer, and gas for industrial development and ready access to US 176, the spec building, which is located at 2 LSP Driver in Union Commerce Park, was just a 60,000 square-foot shell with a dirt floor. It also had an adjacent 60,000 square-foot building pad, and an additional 45,000 square feet of open land. The pad and the additional land are there to accommodate any potential industrial expansion that may occur.
Since the sale, work has been under way at the spec building, work that appears to be making us of the pad and additional land to complete the facility and more double its size.
While its identity is concealed by the code name Project Wolverine, the company has had a long relationship with the county, a relationship that began a decade ago when it first built its manufacturing facility which now undergoing what will be its second expansion.
According to the agreement approved by council earlier this month, the company entered into a fee agreement with the county to invest $90 million in the construction of a manufacturing facility in Union County and create 130 new, full-time equivalent jobs. To facilitate this, Union County and Spartanburg County entered into an agreement to develop a multi-county industrial park in Union County in which the facility would be located.
The agreement states that six years later, on Dec. 1, 2012, the company and the county into another fee agreement, this one involving the expansion of the facility built under the 2006 agreement. This new agreement called for the company to invest $50,926,000 in the expansion of the manufacturing facility and create 100 new, full-time equivalent jobs.
Now the facility is undergoing its second expansion, increasing the company total investment in the county to $430 million and the number of job its created to 330.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.