WINNSBORO — A $14.06 million bond issue Fairfield County is planning as part of its long-term economic growth will not include a tax increase, county officials were told last week.
Tiffany Harrison, director of economic development for Fairfield County, presented an updated economic development plan for the county that was part of the 2009 “Road map to Success,” a 10-year plan for economic prosperity in Fairfield County.
Those plans have entered squarely into their second phase now, focusing on infrastructure improvements such as water and sewer access for the county industrial parks.
As part of this phase, the county economic development office did updated due diligence studies on all of its industrial park properties to increase their marketability.
The Fairfield County Commerce Center was one of the first in South Carolina to be certified by the S.C. Department of Commerce. Harrison said 80 percent of all projects begin with a search looking for a speculative building.
Elite IS bought the county’s spec building in 2011, so a new 75,000-square-foot spec building was built at the Walter E. Brown II Industrial Park on Peach Road. This building was completed in 2012 and a ribbon cutting for the building will be at 4 p.m. April 8.
In 2013, water and road infrastructure at the site is planned to be completed. Then Phase II will continue efforts for county wide water and sewer systems.
The Army Corps of Engineers was consulted in 2012 to help find a water source and their findings will be coming over the summer and early fall. A water distribution system for the I-77 corridor and the rest of the county is the next big economic need the plan identifies.
Harrison said the county projects residential and potential industrial growth on its western side because around 800 permanent jobs will arrive when the V.C. Summer nuclear station reactors come online within the next five to seven years.
She said the Town of Winnsboro coordinated with the county for the Army Corps study and should be in the conversations with the county about water as the processes move forward. She also noted a contract with the City of Columbia and said that it might be possible to look into subdividing that as a way to get water into the industrial park.
The one million gallons per day the county currently buys from Columbia could cover the corridor from Syrup Mill Road to Ridgeway, which includes both industrial parks.
The report included expenditures for economic development such as $3 million for the Walter Brown II Clearing and Speculative Building, $6 million for Phase II of the Fairfield Commerce Center and $3.5 million for Phase 1 of the water and sewer from Peach Road to I-77 Exit 41.
Another key part is a quality of life component. To that end, $3.5 million is allocated such that each county council district would receive $500,000 for construction of regional parks in each district.
County Administrator Phil Hinely said he learned during a March conference in Washington, D.C., that some government officials are considering removing the tax exempt status on bonds which, in his view, means a county would have to pay a higher interest rate because the bond holder would treat the funds as a pass through to the county.
This economic development study comes at a good time, according to Hinely, because he believes time is of the essence when making infrastructure decisions.
Hinely said the Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing the water contract the county is considering with the town and with Columbia as well. The reports are expected later this year.
Contact Kevin Boozer at 635-4016 ext. 14 or email@example.com.