A road will be transferred, another rebuilt to handle increased traffic, and a new one built; a county office and a recycling convenience center will be relocated; utilities will also be relocated; and a railroad spur built across SC 18 to accommodate the new Gonvauto South Carolina steel service center.
Gonvarri Steel Services will make an initial investment of $35 million in its Gonvauto South Carolina facility, its first steel service center in America, which will be built on a 24-acre site adjacent to SC 18 in the Bonham Community. Gonvauto, which is projected to initially employ 40 workers, will supply the adjacent Gestamp LLC automotive parts manufacturing facility. Gestamp is the parent company of Gonvarri.
Union County Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to approve third and final reading of an incentive package for Gonvauto which was previously known by the code name “Project Metric.” The incentive package includes a fee-in-lieu of taxes agreement that will enable Gonvarri to pay a reduced property tax rate; a special revenue source credit; a transfer of land from the county to the company; an option for the company to purchase more land; and other related matters between the county and the company.
Approval of the incentive package was followed by a formal announcement by Gonvarri of its plans to locate its Gonvauto facility in Union County. Beyond the initial investment, Gonvarri plans to invest another $15 million in and create an additional 25 jobs at the Gonvauto facility. Work has already begun on the 24-acre site where Gonvauto will be located, and Gonvarri plans to have the facility — which will have a flat steel processing capacity of 100,000 tons — in operation by July 2013.
The site is not only adjacent to the Gestamp facility, but also near a number of county facilities including the Union County Public Works Department, Union County Detention Center, Union County County Jail, Union County Animal Shelter, the Bonham Community’s recycling convenience center, and the roads that serve them. Supervisor Tommy Sinclair said Wednesday that the location of some of these facilities will have to change and the routes to and from them rearranged to accommodate the new Gonvauto facility, all without disrupting county operations.
“There are currently two roads into that area and it is worthwhile to define the county operations in that area,” Sinclair said. “The entire Public Works is there which is the road crew; Solid Waste Management which handles the collection of ewaste, metal and other recyclable materials like plastic and cardboard, and from which a number of tractor trailers come and go. Also, there is the Animal Shelter, our primary communications tower, our stockpiles of rocks and gravel, our detention center, our jail, and our fuel pumps. On any given day, between visitors and operations, there’s 350 vehicles in and out of there.”
Sinclair said these facilities are served by Detention Road, which he described as the “heavy duty road,” and Animal Shelter Road which he described as a “light duty road.” To accommodate Gonvauto, Sinclair said the county will turn Detention Road over the company which will use it for truck and other transport to and from the facility. Animal Shelter Road will then be rebuilt to handle the heavier traffic that currently travels Detention Road. A new road will be built further down SC 18 to provide a second access to and from the county facilities which Sinclair said will remain in operation despite the changes.
“None of these operations can stop,” Sinclair said. “So the key is coordination, and cooperation with an adequate dose of patience.”
In addition to the changes in the roads in and out of the county facilities, Sinclair said the Bonham recycling convenience center and the Public Works Department will have to be moved back several hundred feet from their current locations. Sinclair said this is being done because a railroad spur will be built linking the Gonvauto facility with the Norfolk & Southern Railroad line that runs along SC 18. He said the spur, which will be approximately 500 feet in length, will run through the area now occupied by the recycling convenience center and the Public Works office building.
The construction of the railroad spur will also require the relocation of the utilities that run along SC 18 and serve the county facilities. While the cost of these changes is still being determined, Sinclair said it will be worth it to facilitate the construction, operation and possible future expansion of Gonvauto.
“Utility relocation, which is an expense of the City of Union and Lockhart Power, and the relocation of public works and the recycling convenience center, which is an expense of the county, will be considerable,” Sinclair said. “It will be costly but it will be worthwhile to facilitate the plant’s operations and future expansion and to continue to supply the county operations.”
Sinclair said this “transition period” of relocation and construction will take at least six months and perhaps as a much as a year. He said the successful completion of that transition period and the implementation of the changes it will entail will require cooperation and patience by all those involved with and effected by it.
“We’ve all got to coordinate, cooperate and be patient,” Sinclair said.