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Duke, MSC complete study of Emmanuel Site

Posted: November 19, 2013 4:39 p.m.
Updated: November 20, 2013 5:00 a.m.

McCallum Sweeney Consulting (MSC), a Greenville-based consulting firm working with Duke Energy Progress (DEP), recently completed its evaluation of a potential industrial site called Emmanuel for Kershaw County.

MSC and Duke presented its findings Nov. 13 in Kershaw County Council chambers along with Alliance Consulting. DEP’s readiness program is intended to assess the strengths and weaknesses of potential industrial sites within the utility’s service territory, according to Kershaw County Economic Development Director Peggy McLean.

MSC Senior Principal Mark Sweeney and MSC’s Sarah White presented the findings. They were joined by DEP’s Dennis Turner, Stuart Ames and Randy Broome; and Rebecca Breland and Jamie Frost from Alliance Consulting. Attending the two-hour presentation were Kershaw County Council Vice Chair Stephen Smoak, Councilman Jimmy Jones, Kershaw County Administrator Vic Carpenter, Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Liz Horton and a number of Kershaw County citizens.

White said that, based upon a number of findings, MSC was able to offer recommendations to the county. Those recommendations are based on the site’s strengths and site selection drivers for each target industry. These recommendations are given to community leaders after the evaluation has been completed, White said.

Alliance, which was hired by MSC, provided graphic renderings of the site depicting aerial views of the site’s buildable area and two concept plan options. Sweeney said preparation gained through the site evaluation process is key to attracting industry to the county.

“Being prepared creates competitive advantage,” he said.

According to McLean, the two options depicted by Alliance Consulting were of “a park-like site that would incorporate multiple industries or of a single user site.” McLean said these were the two images presented because these were the “two possibilities” MSC and Alliance saw for the site.

Though the site is not yet certified, McLean did say that the DEP/MSC/Alliance “evaluation process looks at what the site can potentially offer.” She said the process did not yield specific results, but was able to suggest potential options for development.

Sweeney began the presentation by offering background information on the importance of site evaluations and readiness programs. He explained that competition is currently higher than ever amongst regions to attract new business.

“Being prepared means having a portfolio of prepared, certified sites,” Sweeney stated.

Because companies are driven by deadlines, Sweeney explained, they tend to seek sites that are “ready for quick development.” Communities that have ready or certified sites have a competitive advantage. Also, he explained that a site evaluation gives community leaders a greater comprehension of a site’s “strengths and weaknesses” which positions them “for effective pro-active marketing.”

White presented MSC’s specific findings regarding the Emmanuel Site. MSC evaluated the site from both a technical and marketing perspective, White explained. Some of the qualities evaluated within the technical perspective include the site itself (topography, property control, zoning, etc.); transportation (interstate access, airport and port proximity, rail service); and utilities.

According to White, the technical strengths of the area include:

• the site being 527.17 total acres in size with 484 developable acres;

• zoning changes will not be necessary for light industrial uses;

• the site is 5.1 miles from I-20 and accessible by rail; and

• the site has high adequacy/capacity for utilities (water, electricity, telecom, wastewater and gas).

Two technical aspects White mentioned needed development were that the site has four landowners with the property’s actual availability not being documented, and that the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 601 will need improvements in order to handle industrial traffic.

White also offered findings that fell into a category of “meet(ing) criteria,” but that could be perceived as weaknesses. These include:

• general development allows residential uses and residential development is located south of the property;

• Gilles Creek crosses the northern portion of the site and small isolated wetlands are located on the southern portion of the site;

• a rail crossing cannot be moved and limits the ability to relocate Whitehead Road for site flexibility;

• Smith Road, which runs along the northeast border of the park, is unpaved;

• a price for the land has been established but not confirmed with site availability documentation; and

• a school is located along the route to the interstate.

MSC’s findings, however, suggested that, with work, most of these issues could be remedied and made into strengths.

From a marketing perspective, some of the qualities taken into consideration include community, workforce, transportation, project start-up schedule, site costs and site characteristics, White said. The marketing strengths of the site include:

• adequate business, industrial, hotel and restaurant options available in the area;

• low union activity;

• a high percentage of population employed in manufacturing;

• high school degree attainment in Kershaw County is higher than South Carolina average;

• the ability to recruit technical and professional workforce;

• the site is 40 miles from Columbia Metropolitan Airport and 140 miles from the port of Charleston;

• the site has high capacity for utilities; and

• minimal site preparation will be needed.

MSC also mentioned certain marketing aspects that met criteria but could be perceived as weaknesses. These included the fact that bachelor’s degree attainment is lower in Kershaw County than the state average; the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 601 would need to be improved to handle traffic; and that Kershaw County has suffered an overall job loss during from 2009 to 2011.

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