Union receives $159,000 grant for water project

A $159,725 state infrastructure grant will allow the City of Union to install a new water providing additional service to two industrial parks and help facilitate the ongoing expansion of a local manufacturing facility.

In a statement released Tuesday, the SC Department of Commerce announced that, in recognition of the fact that “upgrades to water and sewer infrastructure can have significant environmental and economic benefits,” the Board of Directors of the S.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) has awarded more than $13 million in grant funds for water, sewer and drainage projects. With those awards, the press release states that the RIA has awarded a total of approximately $24 million in grants to of 61 projects in fiscal 2017.

The press release states that the projects will have a dual impact on the communities in which they will be made, beginning with improvements to collection and distribution lines, storage tanks, pump stations and treatment plants. In addition, those projects will impact more than 50,000 residential customers and 6,000 businesses by ensuring safe drinking water, providing reliability for area businesses, and boosting economic opportunities.

“Funding these infrastructure projects provides a path to stronger communities, helping set the table for economic development,” said S.C. Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt, who also serves as board chairman. “Such investments in infrastructure support homes, schools and businesses across South Carolina and improve the quality of life for all who live, work and play in our state.”

The press release further states that many water and sewer utilities are faced with aging infrastructure in need of constant rehabilitation and repair. This not only results in disruptions in service, but also serves as a reminder that upgrades are needed to ensure that all customers are provided with modern and efficient infrastructure.

Now in its fifth year of funding, the RIA supports such efforts through its statewide financing programs.

City Of Union Grant

Among the municipalities, water and sewer authorities, public works commissions receiving the grants announced this week is the City of Union which was awarded $159,725 for what the press release called “economic water infrastructure.”

City of Union Utility Director Joe Nichols said the grant will be used to fund the construction of a 12-inch water line that will serve both the H. Mac Johnson and Union Commerce industrial parks between US 176 and SC 18. Nichols said the line, which will be 1,500 feet in length, will provide additional water reliability and redundancy for the parks that will help facilitate economic development. He said the construction of the new water line is related to the ongoing expansion of the Gestamp manufacturing facility that straddles both parks.

Nichols said that under the terms of the program, the grant can only be used to cover the cost of construction. He said the city will pay for the engineering costs associated with the project plus any additional cost of construction if the project exceeds the grant amount.

Gestamp Expansion

An international manufacturer of metal automotive components, Gestamp is expanding its Union County facility to meet increased demand from local automotive original equipment manufacturers. The project is expected to bring $129 million in new capital investment and lead to the creation of 130 jobs in the Union County.

Designed to serve the existing BMW and Volvo Cars operations in South Carolina, the Gestamp facility is located at One LSP Road between the H. Mac Johnson and Union Commerce industrial parks. The expansion involves the addition of more than 300,000 square feet to its current facility including the construction of 123,000 square feet of new space and the addition of another 182,000 square feet by leasing an existing building.

Hiring for the new positions is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2018, and those interested in applying should contact gscareers@us.gestamp.com. For more information on the company, visit www.gestamp.com.

RIA Grants

RIA grants are awarded twice a year through a competitive process that considers the need for improved public health, environmental protection, community sustainability and economic development. Applicants are required to match the RIA funding request. Applications are selected by the RIA board based on criteria, including: severity of the problem, expected impact and project feasibility.

S.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority

The S.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) was created to help communities with financing for qualified infrastructure projects. Infrastructure refers to water and waste water systems as well as storm water drainage and other public facilities.Chaired by the Secretary of Commerce, the RIA is governed by a board of directors, including six members who reside in or represent distressed and/or least developed counties.

S.C. Department of Commerce

As South Carolina’s leading economic development agency, the Department of Commerce works to recruit new businesses and help existing business grow. Commerce has recruited world-class companies to South Carolina such as BMW, Boeing, Continental, Giti Tire, LPL Financial Holdings, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Toray and Volvo Cars and also supports startups, small and existing business, innovation and rural development initiatives. Commerce partners with the S.C. Technical College System via readySC to support workforce training and recruiting, and with the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, which provides worker training and employment opportunities within the state. In three of five years, IBM-Plant Location International reports ranked South Carolina first in the nation for attracting jobs through foreign investment, per capita. The state won the Gold Shovel Award and the Project of Year Award from Area Development magazine in 2012, 2014 and 2015. For more information, visit www.SCcommerce.com.

By Charles Warner, Staff Reporter with The Union Times