UNION — Economic development and the redevelopment of downtown Union are the goals District 6 Union City Councilman Jim Wilson said he wants to pursue if reelected in November.
Wilson has served on council since June 5 when he won a special election to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of Andy Bailey. He is seeking a term in his own right in the November general election.
In the four months since he took office, Wilson said council has taken a number of actions that will benefit Union including approving a plan to refinance some of its General Obligation bonds.
He said the refinancing of the bonds — which will save the city more than $600,000 in bond payments and release nearly $1 million in debt service funds — will not only save the city money, it will also free up funds for other projects.
“Our recent bond refinancing will allow us to save a considerable amount of money over the coming years which can be used on other infrastructure improvements without additional expense to our citizens,” Wilson said.
Wilson said infrastructure improvements are an important part of the the economic development process and the redevelopment of the downtown area and the rest of Union. He said that if reelected, he will support the Union County Development Board and similar organizations and called for increased cooperation between the city and the county in the area of economic development.
“On economic matters I will continue to support our economic development specialists as they work to attract new business and industry to our area,” Wilson said. “The city council and county council need to consider a joint venture to build another spec building in the near future so we will have an almost ready for occupancy building to show industrial prospects.”
Wilson pointed out that the city, county, development board, Union County Chamber of Commerce, and the Union County Board of School Trustees have already committed themselves to this kind of joint effort through the passage of resolutions committing themselves the “Work Ready Communities” program. The goal of the program is to develop a trained, nationally certified workforce which the county can use to market itself to new industry and help retain existing industry.
“The Work Ready Community resolution, which is an indication of the education and work skills of the area workforce, will be beneficial in attracting jobs,” Wilson said. “As I indicated in the previous election, our citizens need to step up their educational goals from what they presently are to at least one more level so we can have a workforce ready for the future.”
Wilson said the growth and expansion of USC Union will be a major part of the development of this workforce and the educational resources it will require. He said the expansion of USC Union will not only be important to the success for the Work Ready Community program, but also to the redevelopment of the downtown area.
“I would also encourage USC Union to move forward on plans to build dormitories and a School of Nursing,” Wilson said. “This would create a population boost in the downtown area and would open up possibilities for more restaurants, shops, and entertainment downtown.”
Wilson said the expansion of USC Union would be the latest in a series of projects by both the city and other organizations to redevelop the downtown area.
“We welcome the new Family Dollar store that is part of downtown revitalization,” Wilson said. “Family Dollar did away with an old building on Main Street and is going to replace it with a modern facility. It will be great to have this modern facility in the downtown area.
“We have recently completed the hazardous material removal from the Super 10 store project, which is a joint effort by the city, county, development board and the chamber of commerce to bring an upscale restaurant and other shops to the downtown area,” he said. “The burned out building that used to be the bridal shop has been cleaned up and the owner has deeded the property to the city. I would like to see the city put some public restroom facilities in this location since there are none downtown. This would be beneficial when hosting parades and other events on Main Street.”
Council recently voted to donate $50,000 from its Hospitality and Accommodations Tax revenue to the Miracle League of Union County.
The Miracle League will use the funds to help match a $60,000 grant by the Timken Family Family Foundation. The Foundation recently donated $25,000 to the League and issued a challenge to the community to raise $60,000 by Aug. 13, 2013 which it would match.
The League is raising funds to modify Field No. 1 at Timken Sports Complex into a completely flat, low-impact surface that will support any mobility aid including walkers and wheelchairs. The estimated cost of the project is $250,000.
Wilson said this is part of council’s efforts to promote tourism.
“The donation to the Miracle League field is part of our efforts to attract tourists to Union,” Wilson said. “These activities, events and festivals bring visitors to town allowing us to showcase Union.”
A long-term project Wilson said he supports is the construction of Patriot’s Lake.
“We need to have a second source of water,” Wilson said. “They did a study which said our present supply is adequate for the next 20 years, but we need to go ahead and plan now for the future.”
Wilson is a Union native and son of Charles and Nina Wilson. He graduated from Union High School and from Spartanburg Technical College. Wilson holds a degree in engineering from Clemson University. During the course of his career, Wilson worked at Union Mill for United Merchants and for Milliken at facilities in Pacolet, Pine Mountain, Ga., and LaGrange, Ga. He retired from the Union County School District where he was employed at the Career and Technology Center. Wilson is a member of Sardis United Methodist Church and he and his wife, Teresa, have three children.
Wilson is opposed for reelection by Sonja Craig who also ran against him in the June 5 special election.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.