NEWBERRY — Marketing, public relations and timing were topics discussed at the Feb. 10 meeting of the Newberry County Council Economic Development Committee.
Though limited by confidentiality agreements from going into specific details about economic development projects, the committee did confirm that the S.C. Department of Commerce continues to actively market Newberry County’s Mega Site.
The I-26 Mega Site, bounded by Old Whitmire Highway, S.C. 76 and I-26, has rail access and convenient access to the I-26 interchange at S.C. 121. Over the next four years, the site assemblage team can put together more that 2,000 contiguous acres on the mega site using options to buy 25 separate tracts.
Teresa Powers, director of economic development for Newberry County, updated the committee on information requests made of the county about the site. Easements need to be mapped on the property.
“Consultants are sorting through the nearly 95 easements to see which are most important to developing the property,” she said.
Powers explained that Mark Sweeney with McCallum Sweeney Consulting told her there is a new standard to certify mega sites such as this one and that the Newberry site will be vetted to the highest standards of any in South Carolina.
Newberry County Administrator Wayne Adams said there were few huge competitors at this time with the mega site, something that bodes well for Newberry’s chances to recruit industry.
“It’s a good time to have a mega site,” Adams said, “because few states have them.”
Powers also said the county anticipates a mid-March completion of the spec building in the Mid-Carolina Industrial Park, despite weather-related delays in putting down the gravel floor.
The committee continues to explore an option to extend the roadway into the industrial park for access and to place a power substation further back into the park.
The potential $930,000 expenditure would expand the road to cross a creek and create a construction access road, not a finished road for the park. Powers said having such a road could help with giving tours of the park to potential businesses.
The funds would be reimbursed from county bonds when the bonds are paid for in 2015.
In other business:
• Marketing and a possible ribbon cutting for the spec building were discussed. The economic development committee’s recommendation was for Powers to see if Santee Cooper would agree to the county issuing a press release about the opening of the spec building but delay any ribbon cutting ceremony until a business was moving into the building at the Mid-Carolina Industrial Park.
• The committee brainstormed ideas for Industry Appreciation Week. A tentative date of April 10 was suggested for Industry Appreciation Day.
• Councilman Les Hipp was elected chairman of the Economic Development Committee.
• Powers updated the committee on marketing of the county, saying the county has been marketed through a Mid-Carolina flier in the November/December issue of SCBiz magazine, in an ad in the new South Carolina Magazine that appears online and in print at trade shows, and on e-blasts that promote the county spec building via the Central Business Alliance.
Powers said a recent trip she made with the State Department of Commerce to the west coast was a good trip with useful networking opportunities. She said she met with 13 companies while on that trip.
• Powers will attend the S.C. Automotive Summit in Greenville next week for the first time. The summit will help her network in that field. She also will attend the S.C. Rural Summit on March 3 in Sumter.
• March 5 is a Workforce Opportunity Summit with the Newberry County Career Center and Piedmont Technical College. Beginning at 8 a.m. with breakfast and continuing until 11:45 a.m., the event explores the skills set needs employers have and ways to ensure PTC and the career center are targeting their curriculum to enable students to help meet those employer needs.