UNION COUNTY — Economic development was a big part of the February meeting of Union County Council with council voting to approve three ordinances designed to facilitate that development.
At its January meeting, council voted unanimously to approve a resolution committing the county to establishing the Union County Facilities Corporation which the resolution describes as a “non-profit corporation.” The resolution states that the UCFC is being established for “enhancing the economic development of the county.”
Supervisor Frank Hart said at the time that such non-profit corporations are used by many counties and cities as a mechanism for public-private partnerships for economic development. Hart explained that ecomomic development efforts in a community often require public entities like the county to partner with private entities such as a business or industry to facilitate the process. He said this is difficult for counties to do given state law and how county government is set up, but non-profits like the UCFC make it easier for public entities like the county to enter into such necessary partnerships.
The resolution was the first step in the process of setting up the UCFC which continued at Tuesday’s council meeting when council took the next step by voting unanimously to approve first reading of an ordinance “authorizing the organization of Union County Facilities Corporation.”
Council must approve two more readings of the ordinance and hold a public hearing between the second and third readings before the ordinance becomes law and the UCFC is established.
Council also voted unanimously Tuesday to approve second reading of an ordinance authorizing the county to enter into a fee-in-lieu of taxes agreement with a company known only by the code name “Project Wolverine.”
The ordinance states that the agreement is being implemented because of “a new expansion involving a total of not less than $278 million, two hundred thousand ($278,200,000) in new, taxable investment and the creation of at least 100 new full-time jobs; the conveyance of certain real estate by the county to the company; consenting to and seeking the judicial closure and abandonment of a portion of fire station road, and the subsequent conveyance of that property to by the county to the company; the authorization of certain other benefits and other incentives related to Project Wolverine; and other matters relating to the foregoing.”
Council had previously passed a resolution committing the county to entering into a fee-in-lieu of taxes agreement with the company, but an ordinance establishing it by law must be approved before it can take affect. In order to take affect, council must hold a public hearing on the ordinance before third and final reading.
Council also voted unanimously Tuesday to approve first reading of an ordinance amending the fee-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement between Union County and Gonvauto South Carolina, LLC. The ordinance states that the fee agreement, which the county and the company entered into July 25, 2012, is being amended to include “the addition of GES Recycling South Carolina, LLC.”
The ordinance states that GES South Carolina, LLC is owned by GESRecycling USA, LLC which is an affiliate of Gonvauto (GES Holdco). It states that GES “desires to locate a steel and aluminum collection, processing, and recovery operation” at the manufacturing facility operated by Gonvauto in Union County. It further states that the collection, processing, and recovery operation is “a necessary and integral part of the Gonvauto’s manufacturing process” at its Union County facility.
The ordinance states that GES “anticipates investing at least $4 million and creating at least 21 jobs in the establishment and operation of its aluminum collection, processing, and recovery operation” at the Gonvauto facility in Union County.
The GES operation at the Gonvauto facility was first announced in 2016 and was initially included under the fee-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement between the county and Gonvauto in March of that year. Since that time, the ordinance states GES has underwent corporate restructuring and the company sought an amendment to the 2016 ordinance to reflect that restructuring.
The Gonvauto facility is located at 1725 Jonesville Highway, Union, in the Bonham Community. The steel processing facility employs a workforce of 62 full-time employees.
Gonvauto is an affiliate of Gestamp LLC which operates an adjacent manufacturing facility at 1 LSP Road, Union, also in the Bonham Community. The Gestamp facility employs 391 full-time employees in the production of automotive components.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.