Economic development finances more economic development

Industrial development in Union County and beyond is generating revenue that  can be used by the county to prepare for future development according to Union  County Development Board Executive Director Andrena Powell-Baker.

The Union County Development Board has proposed that the county make itself  more attractive to industry by making $3.3 million worth of improvements to  three industrial sites:

• The Trakas industrial site where the improvements will include  re-certification ($55,000), construction of an entrance ($150,000), installation  of a building pad ($400,000), permitting ($50,000) and architectural plans for  virtual building ($50,000) at a total of approximately $705,000.

• Commerce Park where 60,000-square-foot shell building which could be  expanded to 120,000 square feet would be built along with a 60,000-square-foot  building pad for possible expansion at a cost of approximately $2 million.

• The Midway Industrial Park where a roadway would be used for road extension  at a cost of approximately $595,000.

Powell-Baker and Board Chairman Joe Nichols proposed these projects during a  meeting with members of Union County Council and Union City Council in March at  the Union County Advanced Technology Center. In their presentation, Powell-Baker  and Nichols said that much of the funding for these projects would not come from  the city or the county but through other funding sources including the Union  County Economic Development Fund.

“The funds for the speculative building (in Commerce Park) come from the  county economic development fund,” Powell-Baker said earlier this week. “These  funds come from a portion of existing industrial taxes that are set aside for  economic development.”

Powell-Baker pointed out that the county’s economic development funds are  generated in part by the multi-county industrial park agreements it has entered  into over the years with Spartanburg County. There are more than a dozen of  these agreements, many of them covering industries that located in Spartanburg  County including BMW and, most recently a health care facility operated by  Spartanburg Rehabilitation Institute, Inc. and MPT of Spartanburg, LLC. Even  though these industries are located in Spartanburg County, Union County receives  one percent of the tax revenue they generate, part of which the county allocates  for economic development projects like the spec building.

“That account is funded by industries who pay taxes outside of our county,” Powell-Baker said. “That’s one revenue stream we proposed we use for our  speculative building.”

Another revenue source generated by industry that the county uses for  economic development is from the fee-in-lieu of taxes agreements with industries  that locate in Union County. The agreements are an economic development  incentive that allows industries to pay a lower property tax rate for a certain  period of time. Revenue from those agreements is also earmarked by the county  for economic development projects such as those being proposed by the board at  the county’s three industrial sites.

Other sources of funding for the improvements proposed by the board come from  the public/private partnerships that have been formed over the years between the  board, the county, and the city and private businesses and industries like  Lockhart Power and Broad River Electric. Part of the funding for the Trakas  improvements would come through Broad River Utilities tax credits while the road  extension at the Midway Industrial Park would be paid for in part with Lockhart  Power Utilities tax credits.

Powell-Baker said public/private partnerships like these have helped the  county prepare for and facilitate industrial development in the past and can  continue to do so in the future.

“Its through public/private partnerships that we’ve been successful making  improvements to our industrial parks in the past,” Powell-Baker said. “There’s  no reason why we shouldn’t go forward with that model.”

By Charles Warner, Staff Reporter with The Union Daily Times