New businesses moving forward | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | December 22, 2016 5:00 pm
Last Updated: December 21, 2016 at 9:56 am
By GEORGE SALSBERRY
Colleton County Council met in special session the afternoon of Dec. 16 to move along three economic development tools to help produce approximately 170 new jobs.
One ordinance for Lowcountry Aviation Company, which approves a lease agreement that allows the company to construct a new facility at the Lowcountry Regional Airport, was given a second reading. It will see final passage at council’s next regular meeting on Jan. 3.
That lease agreement also needs to be approved by Walterboro City Council and the Walterboro-Colleton County Airport Commission.
Two other measures on the special meeting’s agenda involved JGBR-Walteboro, which will establish a steel ball and ball bearing manufacturing facility at the former Asten-Johnson facility on North Jefferies Boulevard.
A resolution designated the building at 1310 N. Jefferies Blvd. as an abandoned building site.
The designation is necessary for JGBR to obtain job tax credits designed to put the building, formerly used in the textile industry, back to work.
An ordinance given first reading adds the North Jefferies Boulevard site to the county’s joint county industrial park.
During the regular council meeting on Dec.6, members conducted a public hearing and then gave final approval to fee-in-lieu agreements for the two companies.
Both economic development projects have been on the drawing board for quite a while. The JGBR-Walterboro fee-in-lieu ordinance had its first reading on June 7. The first reading for the Lowcountry Aviation fee-in-lieu ordinance was conducted on March 3, 2015.
Advancement of the JGBR-Walterboro ordinance was held up as attorneys worked on the nuts and bolts of the agreement.
Lowcountry Aviation’s ordinance had to sit until the state legislature approved legislation concerning the agreement.
Although the fee-in-lieu agreement with JGBR-Walterboro had been sitting, the Chinese-based ball bearing manufacturer has been moving forward the plans to establish its first U.S. based plant in Walterboro.
The company, based in Rugao, China, has purchased the former Asten-Johnson manufacturing complex: nine acres containing a 240,000-square-foot building, and has spent the past few months retrofitting the building to install the equipment to manufacture high-precision steel ***** and ball bearings for the mechanical and automotive markets.
The fee-in-lieu agreement calls for JGBR-Walterboro to invest $7.2 million to establish its manufacturing presence in Colleton County. The state’s Coordinating Council for Economic development provided a $250,000 grant to assist in the work to improve the property.
Colleton County Economic Development Director Heyward Horton said he has been told the company plans to begin manufacturing operations in the first quarter of 2017. Once fully operational, JGBR-Walterboro anticipates manufacturing 400 tons of steel ***** every month.
The company envisions the Colleton County facility meeting the needs of JGBR’s customers in North America, South America and Mexico.
The fee-in-lieu agreement contains the company’s promise that it will create 65 new jobs.
The new company represents a major step in expanding the capabilities of the Lowcountry Regional Airport.
Lowcountry Aviation Company will become the fixed-based operation that Walterboro and Colleton County officials have been seeking for years.
Although all the details concerning the company’s plans are not expected to be officially announced until the first quarter of 2017, over the years an inkling of what the operations will entail have been discussed.
In the fee-in-lieu agreement given its final passage Friday afternoon, Lowcountry promises to spend at least $3,270,000 to construct and equipment its new facilities at the airport.
The company, also according to the fee-in-lieu agreement, plans to employ over 100 full-time employees once fully operational.
In June of 2015, when a proposed ground lease for the company was first announced, Walterboro City Manager Jeff Molinari called the proposal “a groundbreaking event.” It will be the first ground lease that the airport has entered into on airport property.
The plans call for the company to use the leased land “for the business purpose of aircraft management, aircraft maintenance/repair/overhaul including electronic/avionic components, aircraft modifications and upgrades, engineering design, aircraft paint, charter airline/services, flight training and simulation, aircraft brokerage, aircraft rentals, aircraft on ground services and aircraft storage service,” according to the city’s ordinance on the ground lease.
The lease would involve 5.85 acres of land that would include runway access. The lease would run for 30 years.
Under the terms of the lease, the company will pay the airport commission $3,000 annually for the first three years and then the commission will be eligible to obtain lease increases tied to the Consumer Price Index.