February 10, 2014
The Aiken-Edgefield Economic Development Partnership has plans to construct a speculative building in Sage Mill Industrial Park to attract more business to the area.
The Partnership approached Aiken County Council on Feb. 4 with the proposal. Council was scheduled to vote on authorizing the Partnership to apply for a loan through Santee Cooper Power, but any action was tabled until its next meeting. County Administrator Clay Killian said the vote was deferred so they could check to see how it would be properly accounted for in the County’s financial statement and if the loan would count against Aiken County’s borrowing capacity.
The low-interest loan would be for approximately $3.2 million through Santee Cooper Power, not Aiken County. Partnership Executive Director Will Williams said during the Council work session that it’s not the Partnership’s intent to use all of those funds. He added that it also doesn’t expect the spec building to be vacant for too long.
Killian said the reason Council has to authorize the Partnership’s application for the loan is because the County will act as a backing agency. If the building isn’t sold or leased out, the County may be responsible for a portion of the loan. But, Killian said the risk is pretty minimal.
Williams said the Partnership has more than 1,000 acres to work with in Sage Mill, which is located in Graniteville. Williams said the shell building could potentially make the property more enticing.
He said that, according to the state Department of Commerce, 80 percent of industries looking at South Carolina as an option are looking for a building to move into.
A shell building, which is basically four walls and a roof, would save a prospective business months of construction time. A business would be able to easily convert the building into a facility that would meet its needs.
The shell building would be about 100,000 square feet and have the potential of being expanded to about one million square feet.
The shell building will meet design trends to meet today’s industrial needs, Williams added.
“This is just another tool for us to bring industrial prospect to Aiken County,” Williams said. “This is a positive step and will enhance the marketing ability of Sage Mill Industrial Park and Aiken County to industrial users.”
According to Joshua Kay, director of economic development for Santee Cooper, the loan program has been quite successful in counties throughout the state.