Charles Warner Editor
November 13, 2013
UNION COUNTY — Two economic development projects that could bring millions of dollars in investment into the county are closer to becoming a reality after Union County Council approved two ordinances Tuesday evening.
Council approved third and final reading of an ordinance authorizing the county to enter into a fee-in-lieu of taxes agreement with BMW. Under the terms of the agreement BMW will invest more than $30 million in the county between Jan. 1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2018. In exchange, the automotive manufacturer would pay a lower tax rate on its investment for the duration of the agreement.
While the county has furnished no further information on the nature of the investment, an inducement resolution approved by council in September states that the county is recruiting local investment by BMW and/or one or more existing or to-be-formed subsidiaries or affiliates of the company. That investment will take the form of new and/or additional manufacturing equipment placed in the county.
In addition, the resolution states that as an inducement for BMW to make the investment, the county agrees to provide the company with a fee-in-lieu of taxes agreement if the investment is made.
BMW’s investment in the county would be another sign of the continued growth of the automotive industry in Union County. The Bonham area of the county is already home to the Gestamp Automocion South Carolina LLC automotive parts manufacturing facility, a supplier of BMW, and the Gonvauto South Carolina LLC metal fabrication manufacturing facility, which supplies the Gestamp facility.
Council also approved third and final reading of an ordinance authorizing the county to issue a $2.5 million special source revenue bond.
The issuance of the bond is part of the county’s application for a $2 million loan from Santee Cooper to finance the construction of a 60,000-square-foot spec building and accompanying 60,000-square-foot building pad. The loan is zero interest for the first five years, but in order to apply for it, the county must demonstrate its ability to repay it through the issuance of the bond. The county will use revenue generated by its multi-county industrial park agreements to cover the loan. The agreements generate more than $200,000 a year in revenue for the county.
Even though the issuance of the bond to pay for the loan has been approved, county officials have expressed confidence that the county will not have to pay it back. The county plans to sell the spec building with five years of construction with the funds generated by the sale used to repay the loan.
The construction of the spec building and building pad and the application for the loan from Santee Cooper grew out of a proposal made by the Union County Development Board in March. The board proposed the county build the spec building and building pad as part of $3.3 million worth of improvements at three industrial sites to make itself more attractive to industry.
Construction of the spec building and building pad are projected to cost $2 million. Once built, the spec building would be expandable to 120,000 square feet. The building pad would be built to also accommodate possible expansion.
Both the spec building and the building pad will be built in Commerce Park which is located between U.S. 176 and S.C. 18 in the Bonham community.
The county is applying for the loan with the support of the City of Union which, as a member of the Piedmont Municipal Power Agency, is eligible for the loan program. In exchange for supporting the county’s application for the loan, the city will provide power to the facility once it is built.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.