Last updated: August 29. 2013 2:28PM - 841 Views
By - cwarner@civitasmedia.com

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UNION COUNTY — The construction of a new spec building in Commerce Park will help position the county to take full advantage of impeding economic growth related to the automotive industry according to Union County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair.

In a special meeting Tuesday morning, Union City Council voted unanimously to authorize Mayor Harold Thompson to enter into a resolution supporting Union County’s entrance into a loan program funded and underwritten by Santee Cooper. As a member of the Piedmont Municipal Power Agency, the city is eligible to participate in the loan program which is open to cities in the PMPA. The city, however, is using it eligibility to make the loan program available to the county which will use it to build a new spec building in Commerce Park off U.S. 176. In exchange, the city will supply power to the facility once it is built.

Sinclair thanked city council for its assistance and said the spec building and its location will enable the county to take advantage of the growth occurring in the Bonham area which is already home to two automotive-related manufacturing facilities.

“Current experience says that we’re on the very edge of continued economic growth generally related to the automotive industry,” Sinclair said. “Industrial prospects do not typically have the time to wait on a building to be built from scratch. Throughout South Carolina and the southeast those that are sitting on go for prospective industry are those that are successful.

“It is no surprise that the area between the railroad track and the four-lane has seen two Gestamp expansions and the new Gonvauto,” he said. “It is a prime site.”

Sinclair said that the project grew out of joint meeting of city council and Union County Council during which the Union County Development Board Executive Director Andrena Powell-Baker made a presentation about the need for a spec building and how its construction would be financed.

“We reached an agreement to seek a loan from Santee Cooper’s loan program just as other Upstate counties recently have,” Sinclair said. “This loan is initially zero percent and if the spec building is sold within three years then the county will fully recover its investment. Should it take longer than that we still expect to recover the investment.”

Sinclair said the loan will be paid for with part of the revenue generated by its multi-county industrial park agreements.

“The loan is secured by revenue that we already receive from multi-county park agreements that are in place with other counties,” Sinclair said. “Some portion of the multi-county industrial park revenue is dedicated to economic growth and development. That’s some $200,000-plus a year from the multi-county industrial park revenue that’s dedicated to economic growth and development. There is absolutely no tax increase associated with this joint city-county effort.”

Sinclair pointed out that the city’s support of the county’s entrance into the Santee Cooper loan program to secure financing for the spec building’s construction is another example of the cooperation that has benefited the people of Union County in recent years.

“It is another example of the continuing cooperation between the city, the county, and the development board for continued economic growth in Union County,” Sinclair said. “Unemployment has been cut almost in half in the last three years. It has gone from the low 20s to just over 12 percent.”

Sinclair said he expects this progress to continue in the years ahead.

“I do not believe we are on the edge of anything but growth,” Sinclair said.

Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at cwarner@civitasmedia.com.

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