“Project Cougar” could bring investment of $550 million, 300 new jobs to county

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By Stan Welch

The latest economic development opportunity to titillate Anderson County Council became a little clearer Tuesday night, as Economic Development Director Burriss Nelson offered a few more clues about “Project Cougar.”

Nelson was seeking the Council’s support for a series of economic incentives to be offered to an unnamed company that is already located in Anderson County. He described it as an existing company that has been in Anderson for decades; a company that pays wages averaging from eighteen to twenty five dollars an hour.

He further told Council that the proposed project would create 300 jobs in the coming years, with an annual payroll of $12 million a year. The current payroll of the company is $28 million a year.

In addition to creating the new jobs, the project would result in a capital investment of between $550 million dollars and $1 billion in new construction and equipment. Burriss added that the tax income from the expanded facility would be as high as $2.6 million the first year, and would generate $11.8 million over ten years.

He added that several states and some overseas locations are in competition with Anderson County for the company’s favor.

Council, after hearing the report, gave first reading approval to an ordinance that would provide the company with several incentives that would include a ten year extension of their existing fee in lieu of taxes agreement; a special source credit, and the benefits of inclusion in a multi-county industrial park.

In other business, Council Chair Tom Allen, as required by ordinance, appointed the standing and ad hoc committees for the coming year. The finance committee remained unchanged with Councilman Francis Crowder as its chair and Cindy Wilson and Eddie Moore as its members.

Allen will chair the personnel committee, which will also include Tommy Dunn and Eddie Moore. District Six Councilman Ken Waters will chair the public safety and health and human services committee, which will include Tom Allen and Tommy Dunn.

The solid waste and recycling committee will be chaired by Cindy Wilson and will include Tom Allen and Ken Waters. Gracie Floyd will chair the public works committee, along with Tom Allen and Tommy Dunn.

The ad hoc animal welfare committee will be chaired by Eddie Moore and will include Tom Allen and Tommy Dunn. Chairman Allen also appointed an ad hoc committee consisting of Ken Waters, chairman, and Gracie Floyd and Francis Crowder. That committee’s role is to explore methods of expediting Council meetings.

Allen also invited the public to offer suggestions, “since you are the ones who have to sit in those nice soft seats.”