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Industrial prospects remain steady

Posted: January 5, 2012 4:20 p.m.
Updated: January 6, 2012 5:00 a.m.

“I somewhat expected a lull at the end of the year, but that hasn’t been the case,” said Kershaw County Economic Development Director Peggy McLean, referring to the level of business activity experienced toward the end of 2011.

The county finished last year with several economic development deals, including receiving a $250,000 infrastructure assistance payment from Fairfield Electric Cooperative and finalizing fee-in-lieu-of-taxes (FILOT) agreements with INVISTA and Southeast Renewable Energy (SRE) totaling $60 million. 

The investments were viewed as welcomed economic progress by McLean, who was hired as the county’s Economic Development Director in October 2011.

“We’re very excited. I’ve been busy with new prospects and inquiries and I’ve even had visits from some industrial prospects so I’ve been really excited about what I’ve seen,” McLean said.

She said economic growth experienced in the county could be attributed to all levels of leadership.  

“Chairman (Gene) Wise and the rest of the county council, they have good discussions and in the end their actions are very supportive of business. And one thing that’s been good to see is that we do have a pro-economic development governor. We have a very strong secretary of commerce in Bobby Hitt, and I think we’re seeing a reenergized department of commerce. All of that leads to increased activity with the state, which means increased activity for Kershaw County.” 

McLean outlined three main objectives for increasing the county’s economic development heading into 2012.

“The first goal I have and the most important goal is to make sure we are doing everything we can to help our existing industries be prosperous. The second thing is to attract new industry. The third thing is to strengthen our industrial product,” she said.

To accomplish those goals, McLean said she believes the county’s available industrial space should be showcased to companies, particularly with the existence of a ready-to-use shell building at the Steeplechase Industrial Park and a virtual spec building designed for the Wateree Executive Park. 

“Speed is so important to businesses these days. Once they decide on a new location or to expand an existing location, they want to get started immediately. Whatever we can do to cut down on that timeline and help them change from spending money into making money, the better off we are.”

She added that the pursuit of any potential investment deal should be viewed through a lens of both competition and cooperation.

“Our competition is neighboring states, the Southeast, and quite honestly, the country and the world. And we’re trying to put together a package that allows a company to operate profitably. When a company locates in a particular environment, they understand that they’re in a county, but their operation goes beyond those boundaries,” McLean said. “We’ll be affected by what goes on in our neighboring counties because our people may be employed there or those companies might service there as a supplier. So things that happen around us can be very beneficial as well. That’s why we also work together.”

McLean noted that while all business prospects are different, the county attempts to meet the needs of any potential company.

“Every company has different needs. And they’ve likely already done a lot of research on the county, so it’s probably in a location that meets their needs, whether that’s access to supplies or access to customers.

“But we’re laying the groundwork now and pouring the foundation which leads to success in the future.”

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