York County looks ahead to future business development

06/24/2014 7:06 PM

06/25/2014 6:30 AM

The York County Economic Development Corp. took a few minutes Tuesday to thank its director, Mark Farris, his staff, the County Council and the state for last week’s record-setting deals.

Recruiting the Lash Group and LPL Financial Carolinas was hailed as the greatest single-day economic success for York County. The companies, both based in Charlotte, are expected to bring about 2,400 jobs to Fort Mill. The two companies both plan to expand, which could result in as many as 5,400 jobs. That’s the largest, single-day job recruitment in the county’s history.

The celebration was short, however, as county economic development board members turned their attention to a longstanding problem – having enough acres as well as almost-move-in-ready space for the next economic development prospects.

Several years ago, economic development officials in York County and Rock Hill identified the need for more land – up to 1,500 acres – for industrial uses. Acreage with access to Interstate 77, preferably with utility services, is critical, local business leaders say.

Cato’s purchase of land around the former Knights Stadium in the Fort Mill area, the Bailey-Patrick property behind the S.C Welcome Center off I-77, and the Steadman property on S.C. 274 near Lake Wylie added about 700 acres to the county’s industrial/commercial inventory.

York County and Rock Hill officials have been working with property owners of a 300-acre site southeast of the new Ross Distribution Center and south of the Rock Hill Galleria.

Greg Rutherford, York Technical College president and chairman of the economic development corporation’s planning committee, said while those efforts are still active, the city and county should start exploring other options.

ESP, an engineering consulting firm in Fort Mill, evaluated several potential sites for the county and the city. ESP’s findings led to talks with the property owners of the 300 acres south of the Galleria.

The county and the city could ask the firm to study further some of the other sites initially evaluated. Rutherford said the cost of that study could be less than $50,000. “That would be money well spent,” he said.

As for building inventory, the county and the city are proceeding with three “spec” building projects. The “spec” buildings would be about 40,000 square feet, expandable to 100,000 square feet. The size range is based on what most industrial prospects are looking for, said Farris, York County’s economic development director.

One would be on a 5-acre site at the East York Industrial Park in cooperation with the York Electric Cooperative. The economic development corporation has about $1.4 million for the project, money from the sale of a previous spec building off Dave Lyle Boulevard to Coroplast, a German company.

The county’s second building would be with Beacon Partners of Charlotte. The building would be in the Carolina Commerce Park, near Shutterfly’s facility off I-77 in the Fort Mill area.

The county would fund the building with a $3 million, no-interest loan from the Santee Cooper power company.

The city will use a $1.8 million loan from Santee Cooper to develop two sites in the Waterford Business Park near Dave Lyle Boulevard. Both sites would be graded and one developed with a 40,000-square-foot spec building.

Britt Blackwell, chairman of the York County Council, asked the board to consider the 340-acre Pursley property, a former dairy farm off S.C. 160. The site has been considered for an agri-tourism center for the county. Blackwell said it’s possible the property could support an agri-tourism center and other economic development uses.

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