Council takes next step in BMW project
by Charles Warner Editor
UNION COUNTY — A more than $30 million investment by BMW in Union County moved closer to reality Tuesday when Union County Council voted to approve second reading of an ordinance authorizing a fee-in-lieu of taxes agreement with the automotive manufacturer.
The fee-in-lieu of taxes agreement would allow BMW to pay a lower tax rate on its investment for the duration of the agreement.
Council’s action comes just a month after it approved first reading of the fee-in-lieu of taxes agreement and an inducement resolution with BMW. The resolution states that the county is recruiting a local investment by BMW “and/or one or more existing or to-be-formed subsidiaries or affiliates of the company” … “in the form of new and/or additional manufacturing equipment in the county.” It further states that in order to induce BMW to do this, council has committed to provide the company with a fee-in-lieu of taxes agreement if the company makes the investment in the county.
The investment, which the resolution states is to take place between Jan. 1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2018, will amount to more than $30 million.
No further information about the nature of BMW’s investment has been provided by the county. It would, however, be the latest sign of the growing presence of the automotive industry in Union County. Currently, the Bonham area of the county is home to the Gestamp Automocion South Carolina LLC automotive parts manufacturing facility and the Gonvauto South Carolina LLC metal fabrication manufacturing facility.
Supervisor Tommy Sinclair said Tuesday that not only is the investment another sign of the growth of the automotive industry in Union County, it is also a sign of the the county’s improving economic fortunes. Sinclair said it is also a sign that Union County is developing an increasingly diverse economy that includes automotive manufacturing, distribution, and a continued presence by the textile industry.
In other business, council also voted unanimously to approve second reading of an ordinance transferring the county’s interest in the old Super 10 building on Main Street to the City of Union.
The building, which is is located at 107 E. Main St., Union, was jointly acquired by the city and the county in 2007 at a cost of $38,500. One possible use considered for the building was for it to be renovated to serve as a children’s museum. This never came to fruition and the city instead expressed an interest in renovating the building as a site for business and to help recruit business to the downtown area.
The project is being overseen by the Union County Development Board and control of the building was turned over to the Union County Chamber of Commerce which lists it in a commercial database it developed. The database lists properties suitable for retail establishments, restaurants, professional, automotive and service businesses such as contractors. The purpose of the database is to provide a central listing of properties in order to respond to the needs of entrepreneurs wanting to open a business.
Since acquiring the building, the city and the county have both been involved in its renovation with the county using inmate labor to clean it; the city electrical crew removing the lights, suspended ceiling and HVAC system from the building. An engineer was hired to evaluate the building’s structure and stability and an environmental firm hired to evaluate the level of hazardous material in the building that would have to be removed. The environmental firm’s report indicated the presence of hazardous material in the building and recommended their removal. This in turn led to the city seeking bids for the removal of the materials and awarding the bid in 2012 to Mac Environmental, LLC for $13,615. The removal and disposal of the materials was funded with two grants the city received in 2011.
Efforts to stabilize the building continued in May when Union City Council voted unanimously to award the bid for a stabilization project to Kingsmore Construction for $29,193.32. The project included the demolition of the first floor rooms, stairs and wood floor systems and then hauling it to either the landfill in Chester or in Cross Keys with the City of Union to pay the tipping fees; filling the basement will flowable fill and installing block outs and bricking up the door opening in the basement; and providing fill dirt.
The stabilization project is being funded with a Rural Infrastructure Fund grant from the S.C. Department of Commerce ($15,577.24); funds allocated by the City of Union ($7,300); and funds allocated by Union County ($7,300). In its vote to award the bid for the building’s continued stabilization, council also voted to accept full ownership of the building with the county transferring its interest in the property to the city in addition to allocating its share of the cost of the stabilization project.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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