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Top 2017 goals for Rock Hill economic leaders? Jobs, jobs, jobs.

Rock Hill official details 2017 goals, including Knowledge Park, spec buildings

The Rock Hill Economic Development Corporation will focus on building the city's inventory of spec buildings and encouraging a changing workforce, according to RHEDC executive director Stephen Turner. The city's Knowledge Park project is expected
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The Rock Hill Economic Development Corporation will focus on building the city's inventory of spec buildings and encouraging a changing workforce, according to RHEDC executive director Stephen Turner. The city's Knowledge Park project is expected

Leaders with the Rock Hill Economic Development Corp. and the City Council are expected to endorse next week plans to create jobs, bolster business parks and highlight growth.

Stephen Turner, executive director with RHEDC, laid out his 2017 goals Tuesday morning. Those plans include expanding Rock Hill’s “inventory” of available speculative buildings to entice businesses and laying the groundwork to grow a larger technology-based workforce.

The goals will be reviewed and considered next Tuesday at the RHEDC’s regular meeting at the City Club of Rock Hill before the City Council and RHEDC officials meet in a workshop the following morning.

With the council’s consent, the goals could be formally endorsed as early as this month.

“Our purpose is to support the city’s economic development goals,” said Turner, “and the only way to make sure we’re getting that is to make sure we’re communicating.”

According to Turner, the RHEDC has recently finished a second 40,000-square-foot spec building at Waterford Business Park at an investment of $1.3 million.

ROCK HILL
Members of the Rock Hill City Council took their first look in Dec. 2016 at the inside of the historic Lowenstein and an adjacent building, which are part of the future University Center in downtown Rock Hill. Tracy Kimball tkimball@heraldonline.com

The RHEDC recently sold around 40 acres at Legacy West Park to Indianapolis-based developer Scannell Properties. Turner said the city received a $300,000 grant for on-site preparation, cleaning and grading from the S.C. Department of Commerce.

Just last month, Rock Hill officials received a $1.25 million grant from Santee Cooper to help pay for Legacy West, which broke ground in the spring off East Springdale Road and U.S. 21, east of Interstate 77.

Turner said the site is expected to be ready this spring.

Meanwhile, Turner said officials are in discussions with Scannell and others over the much larger Legacy East Business Park area, which covers around 300 acres.

Talent and technology

Turner said his office would focus on growing talent and investing in a technology-based workforce to help bolster the Knowledge Park project in downtown Rock Hill.

The RHEDC is hoping to add an extra employee to the downtown Technology Incubator, which has assisted 16 technology companies since its launch in 2013.

“It’s been very successful in the first three years, and we think there’s more opportunity through there,” said Turner.

Knowledge Park represents the city’s push to revitalize a large stretch of Rock Hill, from Old Town East at Elizabeth Lane to Winthrop University at Cherry Road, redeveloping a textile corridor and providing better access between Cherry Road and Dave Lyle Boulevard.

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The historic Lowenstein Building in Rock Hill offers more than 220,000 square feet. Tracy Kimball tkimball@heraldonline.com

A key portion of that is building a suitable tech-friendly workforce that would attract potential companies from Charlotte to York County.

The city recently released billboards on Interstate 77 that tease commuters with the possibility of working closer to home, rather than traveling to North Carolina.

Turner also mentioned the recent launch of a new online jobs board, which promises to link Rock Hill employers with white-collar workers.

“We’re hoping to get around 30 Rock Hill businesses and at least 75 resumes up by the end of the year,” he said.

David Thackham: 803-329-4066, @dthackham

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