UNION COUNTY — A Columbia-based firm will oversee the construction and assist in the marketing of the new spec building that will be built in Commerce Park off US 176.
Union County Council voted unanimously in a special session earlier this week to hire the M.B. Kahn Construction Co., Inc. of Columbia as the contractor for the spec building project.
Supervisor Tommy Sinclair said that the company, which operates throughout the southeast, will be responsible for, first, the construction of the 60,000-square-foot spec building and accompanying 60,000-square-foot building pad. Once construction is completed, Sinclair said the company will then assist the Union County Economic Development Board in the the marketing of the facility to prospective industry.
Sinclair said that the spec building and pad are being built by the county to increase its appeal to industries looking for a place to do business. He said this is especially important in light of the announcement last by BMW that it will expand its plant in Spartanburg County with a $1 billion investment, which is expected to create 800 new jobs.
“We are positioning ourselves for the growth that is coming as a result of that and other announcements,” Sinclair said.
In October, Union County Development Board Executive Director Andrena-Powell Baker said that the lack of spec building or other industrial space has limited the county’s appeal to industry. Powell-Baker pointed out that 77 percent of prospective industries that request information about the county are looking for an existing building that can meet their needs. She said that the lack of a spec building means the county is only able to compete for 23 percent of the prospective industries looking for a community to do business in.
Powell-Baker added that this problem is not unique to Union County, pointing out that across the southeast there is not enough good building space available for manufacturing, distribution or warehousing. She said the solution to this was the construction of spec building, a step she said several other counties in South Carolina that Union County competes with for prospective industries are also taking.
To rectify this lack of industrial space and increase the county’s appeal to prospective industries, county council voted in October to issue a $2.5 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 the spec building and building pad. 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 spec building once it is built.
Powell-Baker pointed out that while other counties are also building spec buildings, the spec building Union County is looking to build is larger than the average spec building built elsewhere. She said that at 60,000 square feet Union County’s spec building will be bigger than most other spec buildings being built in the state which are 50,000 square feet. In addition, Powell-Baker pointed out that in building the 60,000 square-foot building pad along with the spec building, the county will actually be making 120,000 square feet of space available to prospective industry. She said this means the space will not only accommodate new industry, but its future expansion as well.
This added space will make the county even more attractive according to Powell-Baker who said that 47 percent of the industrial prospects making inquiries about Union County were looking for building space from 50,000 square feet to 200,000 square feet. She said that only 24 percent were looking for 20,000 square feet to 49,000 square feet.
Powell-Baker pointed out that this will be the third spec building built in Union County. The first, which now houses Haemonetics, was built by the City of Union as was the second which houses Timken Industrial Services. The new spec building in Commerce Park will be the first one built by the county and Powell-Baker said it will make Union County more attractive by reducing the risk a prospective industry incurs when it decides to locate in a community.