Projects expand economic development

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Stan Welch

Anderson County continues to pursue and attract economic development opportunities. Two projects are currently progressing, as the County Council continues to support incentives offered to entice various businesses and industries.

“Job creation is absolutely crucial,” said county administrator Rusty Burns “and the Anderson County Council clearly understands that. Their support of our economic development office’s efforts to attract industry is essential to the success of those efforts.”

The two projects currently in play are code named in order to protect the integrity of the process, and to keep potential competition at a minimum. Project Palmetto, which could create 85 jobs, is being offered various incentives, including infrastructure credits. The company is relocating to Anderson from a neighboring county, and will bring 35 full time jobs, as well as the equivalent of twenty more, in the form of part time jobs. They are expected to make a $4 million capital investment.

The Timken Company, of Honea Path, is being offered an amended fee in lieu of taxes agreement as well as special source credits. The company is planning an expansion of their existing facility. That agreement received final approval from the Council Tuesday night.

Project GT350 has recently surfaced. According to Burns it is an expansion of an existing facility already in Anderson County. An expansion is proposed but another state is also competing for that facility, and is trying to convince the company, which has other interests in that state, to relocate both facilities there. The new project would generate approximately 85 new jobs, in addition to those which would be retained f the company remains in Anderson County.

The company, which fabricates a variety of parts for various automakers, located in Anderson in 2007 with just ten employees. They now have 103, and the proposed expansion would create an additional 85 jobs, bringing the company’s total annual payroll to seven million dollars. It also has nine other facilities in its home state, which is attempting to entice it back home.

The incentives offered to the company in question include an extension of its FILOT agreement to thirty years; provision of special source revenue credits; and continued inclusion in a multi-county industrial park, which also provides tax incentives.

The existing facility is located in District Six, which has seen several economic developments in the last year or so, including the opening of Allegro Inc., with fifty jobs. Local entrepreneur Jimmy Wilson played a key role in that project, as well as others in the Piedmont area.

Lolliss Metals, Inc., a machining operation, has been offered several incentives. The company, which is expanding its operations, has recently attained another machine shop that was failing and taken over its operations over. Sixteen new jobs are at stake.

Michelin, Inc. was recently offered an incentive package to entice them to locate a proposed expansion in the area. The company, which currently employs more than 700 people at two facilities in Anderson County, is contemplating building two more facilities, which might employ as many as another three hundred people and involve a capital investment of more than $500 million.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been crafted which reaffirms and redefines the relationship between the County’s Economic Development Office (EDO) and Innovate Anderson. Innovate Anderson (IA) is the private/public partnership designed to attract investment and jobs to the County. The efforts of the two entities have sometimes suffered from the various responsibilities being ill-defined and uncertain. Partly as a result of that, the Anderson County Council voted last year to defund Innovate Anderson. The MOU clearly establishes authority and responsibility for various aspects of the partnership.

Under the MOU, staff members of the Innovate Anderson group would actually be integrated into the EDO staff, serving as project management for specific assigned projects. The EDO, however, will remain as the oversight organization, maintaining contact and communication with the appropriate state agencies, such as the Department of Commerce.

The IA will also focus on creating access to private funding source, and will focus its efforts on job creation within the County. At least one member of the County Council will sit on the executive committee of IA, an access that was lacking previously and contributed to the Council decision to defund the group last year.