News Column

Counties loaned $6M for industry spec buildings

August 26, 2014

By Gene Zaleski, The Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, S.C.



Aug. 26--Orangeburg and Calhoun counties received low-interest loans Monday from state-owned utility Santee Cooper to construct industrial-use buildings in existing industrial parks.

Orangeburg County received a $4 million loan for the construction of a speculative building at least 75,000 square feet in size at the John W. Matthews Jr. Industrial Park. It will be the park's flagship building.

Orangeburg County Development Commission Executive Director Gregg Robinson said the speculative building is crucial for a county that only has about 170,000 square feet of vacant industrial space to show industries.

"We are out of space," he said. Robinson said companies like to have a building available to them when they visit a location.

The interest rate during the 10-year loan's first five years will be 2 percent and the remaining years will be at the U.S. Treasury rate at the time, Santee Cooper spokeswoman Mollie Gore said. The loan would be repaid in full upon the sale or lease of the building, Gore said.

"The goal is to have the buildings sold to an industry very early on in the loan process," Gore said.

The county hopes to begin construction before the end of the year.

Robinson is uncertain about the total cost of the building as it hasn't been designed. He said the next step is to issue a request for qualifications which will seek professional assistance from engineering and construction companies to design the building. The county would then bid the building out and construct the building according to the specifications.

Any additional costs would be paid with local funds.

Robinson declined to say whether the building is for a specific project.

"We have several projects we are currently working on, but we cannot provide details on any end use," he said.

Robinson said about 15 acres in the 541-acre park will be dedicated to the building with the possibility of expansion.

Orangeburg County Council Chairman Johnnie Wright expressed his appreciation for Santee Cooper providing the county with the loan.

"We were trying our best to get somebody in that park because most prospects that come now are looking for a building," he said. "We are trying to have a product to sell."

"I am excited about the opportunity to see if we can get something going," he said. "Hopefully that will be the future (location) of some good-paying jobs the county certainly needs. We need a tax base."

Two years ago, the county received a $6.7 million loan and a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to build a wastewater treatment plant behind the park. The plant will serve the park as well as nearby municipalities.

The park also has a million-gallon water tank.

Santee Cooper also loaned $2 million to Calhoun County to help pay for at least a 50,000-square-foot industrial building in the Interstate 26 Industrial Park.

The loan terms are the same as for Orangeburg County, Gore said.

The park currently has the Starbucks Sandy Run roasting plant.

The total cost of the project could reach $5.4 million, with the balance being paid for with local funds.

Calhoun County Development Commission Executive Director Pat Black said the speculative building would be the second at the I-26 Industrial Park.

"There are a lot of businesses and industries looking to locate in South Carolina and that includes Calhoun County," Black said. "These companies now move very quickly and very fast. It would be good to have part of the building up and with the opportunity of a spec building, it could attract other businesses," he said.

Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551.

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(c)2014 The Times and Democrat (Orangeburg, S.C.)

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Source: Times & Democrat (Orangeburg, SC)


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