Economic development, jobs top agenda items for county

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By Stan Welch – During their meeting Tuesday, Anderson County Council heard an economic development report from ACOG and approved incentives for two companies located in the Piedmont area.

Chip Bentley of the Appalachian Council of Government, reviewed the ACOG’s comprehensive economic development strategy, or CEDS.

According to Bentley, the approach to attaining federal funding for regional and local projects has been changed in two significant ways.

First of all, what both Bentley and Councilwoman Cindy Wilson described as a “wish list” has been more tightly focused on projects that will lead to the direct generation of jobs, and economic development. “This version of the CEDS is a drastic departure from past efforts, when it seemed we just listed everything we could think of and hoped something would come through” said Wilson.

This version of the CEDS deals with seven general categories of projects, and expresses the ACOG’s desire to support such types of projects. “If ACOG and the various government entities like yourselves don’t express that support, the federal Economic Development Authority, or EDA, certainly won’t fund the projects. This approach is much more macro than micro, and gives us much greater flexibility,” said Bentley.

The Council endorsed the CEDS document anonymously.

The Council also gave unanimous first reading approval to ordinances which authorize tax incentives to two companies either expanding or locating new facilities in the Piedmont Industrial Park established by local businessman Jimmy Wilson.

One of the companies, Sleepy Hollow, is a specialty textile manufacturer. According to documents presented by economic development director Burriss Nelson, the state of Ohio actively recruited Sleepy Hollow to relocate there, but, based on the incentives offered, the company decided to remain and expand their facility in Anderson instead.

The company currently employs fifty one people and has a capital investment of approximately three million dollars in place. The expansion will produce an additional twenty full time jobs, with a $2.1 million dollar capital investment. In addition, twenty to twenty five jobs are expected to be created in a ripple effect of the expansion.

The existing company payroll, which totals $1.8 million annually, will increase by approximately $520,000, based on an average wage of thirteen dollars an hour. The company first located in Anderson County in 2004.

Also receiving first reading approval was an ordinance providing incentives to a company called Henry Molded Products, which is also located in the Piedmont Industrial Park. The company has a forty year history, and will generate an additional twenty jobs. A capital investment of at least $4.3 million and possibly as much as $5.3 million is anticipated, with an annual payroll of $400,000.

Following the lead of the Town of Williamston, Anderson County Council also adopted a resolution Tuesday night recognizing Senator Billy O’Dell for his twenty four years of public service in the General Assembly. Sen. O’Dell was unable to attend since he was in Columbia.

The honor echoed a proclamation last Friday which declared the day to be Senator Billy O’Dell Day in Williamston. (See related story in this issue of The Journal.)