Comporium tax credits to help Keer

As a new textile manufacturer gears up its plans for Lancaster County, one of the area’s largest utility companies is lending a helping hand in the form of more than $200,000 in tax credits.

Lancaster County Council voted 6-0 during a special meeting Tuesday, Dec. 17, to approve a resolution allowing Comporium to use tax credit grants to help fund infrastructure related to Keer America Corp.

Councilman Jack Estridge was absent for the vote, due to a previously scheduled meeting.

The resolution authorizes an agreement among South Carolina Net Inc., Palmettonet Inc. and Lancaster County, as well as between Home Telephone Co. and the county, both providing for infrastructure tax credit grants related to Keer.

County Administrator Steve Willis said the three entities listed in the resolution are essentially all subsidiaries of Comporium. “The state has a code whereby utility companies can redirect utility taxes that are due to the state to instead go to economic development projects,” Willis said. “They’ve redirected some of the utility fund money to Keer Group to help pay for water, sewer and roads for that project.”

Formerly known only as “Project Vino,” Keer is a Chinese industrial cotton yarn manufacturer, which promises to bring a $218 million investment and create 501 jobs in the county within five years.

The company plans to build a 230,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on a 140-acre tract of land along Old Bailes Road in Indian Land, and hopes to break ground in early February.

Willis said the special meeting was required since Comporium only had until the end of the year to redirect the credits. The decision was made following discussions among the company’s board of directors and state elected officials, he said.

The credits include $120,000 from Palmettonet Inc., $59,000 from South Carolina Net Inc. and $50,000 from Home Telephone Co., for a total of $229,000.

“One of the things the state says is it has to be for a qualifying project through the state Department of Commerce,” Willis said. “It’s really an economic incentive, because the state is giving up money that would’ve come in to them, but it goes to a company that will in turn create jobs. This also goes to help the utility company eventually.”

The tax credits are a win-win for all involved, Willis said.

“It benefits the utility company because there will be new customers created out of this. It benefits the community because it’s to help a qualifying economic development project create jobs. And it ultimately helps the state,” he said.

The credits are a one-time contribution and can only be used for capital expenses, such as roads or water and sewer lines, per South Carolina’s infrastructure tax credit law.

Comporium has previously funded several other economic development projects in Lancaster County through the tax credit law, including funds in 2010 to help upgrade Quality Drive in the Lancaster Business Park to provide easier access to health-supplement company, Nutramax.

Willis said no executive session was held during the special meeting and no other action took place.

By Christopher Sardelli, Staff Reporter with The Lancaster News