Last updated: May 15. 2014 8:49AM - 1103 Views
By - cwarner@civitasmedia.com

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UNION COUNTY — A company currently known only as “Project Southern” will invest $40 million in a facility in Union County and create 20 new jobs by the end of January 2018 according to an inducement resolution approved this week by Union County Council.

The resolution, which was presented to council Tuesday afternoon by Supervisor Tommy Sinclair, states that the county is recruiting an investment by a company identified only by the code name Project Southern. It states that Project Southern “will represent an investment of approximately $40 million in new, taxable investment, and the creation of 20 new, full-time jobs with benefits” in Union County.

It further states that Project Southern “is anticipated to benefit the general welfare” of Union County “by providing services, employment, recreation or other public benefits not otherwise provided locally.” The resolution states that the purposes accomplished by Project Southern — economic development, keeping of jobs, and an addition to the county tax base — “are proper governmental and public purposes.” It describes the “inducement or location” of Project Southern within the county to be “of paramount importance” and that the benefits of the project will be greater than the costs involved.

The resolution states that if the company now identified as Project Southern invests $40 million and creates 20 new, full-time jobs with benefits between Jan. 31, 2014 and Jan. 31, 2018 then the terms of two different credits provided to the company under an agreement with the county will be extended an additional five years.

Council voted unanimously to approve the inducement resolution and, in a related matter, later voted unanimously to approve first reading of an ordinance amending a special source revenue credit agreement for Project Southern.

Sinclair declined to provide any additional information about the identity of Project Southern, but did say that “it is part of the county’s comprehensive economic development plans to provide diverse job opportunities for the citizens of Union County.”

Affordable Housing

In other business, council also voted unanimously to approve a resolution authorizing Sinclair to “sign the ‘Inter-Governmental Agreement Establishing the Lancaster County HOME Consortium FY 2015-2017 (dba Catawba Region HOME Consortium)” on the county’s behalf.

The purpose of the agreement is to enable the county to increase affordable housing opportunities for present and future residents, especially those it describes as “very low-income.” In order to this, the resolution states the county has determined this can best be accomplished through joint action with other local governments.

By entering into the consortium, the county will be able to access funding from the federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program which provides funds to state and local governments “for affordable housing assistance with the flexibility to decide what kind of housing assistance or mix of housing assistance is most appropriate for local needs.”

The decision to enter into the consortium agreement comes two months after Grazier Rhea and Angela Kirkpatrick with Catawba Regional COG addressed council about a proposed housing consortium for the region which includes Chester, Lancaster, Union and York counties. Kirkpatrick said the main objective for the consortium would be to increase affordable housing opportunities for low-income households, which she said is a need in the Catawba region.

While funding for the consortium would come directly from HUD as part of the HOME program, the amount for the region depends on the number of jurisdictions within the state receiving a share of the total funds available. It also depends on the amount of HOME funds Congress appropriates each fiscal year and the demographic profile of each jurisdiction. According to HUD’s Home Consortia Builder, estimated funding for the Catawba region could potentially be as much as $790,000 annually. Kirkpatrick pointed out that amount was set by HUD and could change year to year. Non-profits, Community Housing Development Organizations, Housing Authorities and other eligible interested parties will be eligible to apply for funding from the consortium each year.

In asking council to consider the option of participating in the consortium, Kirkpatrick pointed out that there is no financial commitment required of the county. When asked by Sinclair about feedback received from other counties in the region, Rhea said each expressed interest in participating.

While the consortium would form a partnership of all jurisdictions, Kirkpatrick said there had to be a lead entity which takes on extra paperwork and some financial responsibility. She said Lancaster County had already volunteered to be the lead entity. She added that a board of directors would be set up, giving each jurisdiction equal representation.

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