Total liabilities and net assets of the Laurens County Development Corporation have increased from just over $2 million in 2017 to about $8.5 million in 2018.
It’s not that LCDC is “worth more” -- it’s just doing more with its existing 3-person staff.
One million dollars of the increase is a loan from Santee Cooper that constructed a spec building in the Hunter Industrial Park. Muffin Mam bought the building to expand its already existing business in Simpsonville. With the building sold, the loan to build it was repaid last month.
Most of the rest of the increase involves The Connexial Center in northern Laurens County.
LCDC is partnering with the Laurens Electric Cooperative and the S.C. Department of Commerce to construct the newest industrial park in the fast-growing I-385 corridor between Greenville and “the split” with I-26 just outside of Clinton.
LEC plans to build a spec building there, and the City of Clinton is very close to selling a second spec building it constructed at the I-26 Commerce Center on Hwy. 72.
At “build-out,” The Connexial Center will be able to accommodate 2.5 million square feet of industrial development.
These liabilities/assets and many other numbers are part of the “LCDC Report on Financial Statements Year Ended December 31, 2018,” presented Tuesday to the development corporation’s board of directors.
LCDC has an unmodified, or “clear,” audit opinion, according McKinley, Cooper & Co., LLC representative Matt Phillips, who reported to the board.
Audited figures show that $933,005 is the LCDC’s “County Appropriations,” but Executive Director Jon Coleman said some of that money is “restricted.”
In LCDC’s role as Laurens County’s industry-hunting agency, the Laurens County government provides $360,000 in funding.
The rest of the money can be spent only for particular projects -- $548,005 to maintain and enhance the Octagon Park, as a reinvestment fund, and $25,000 for maintenance in the Owings Industrial Park.
Coleman explained, “The Octagon Park Reinvestment Fund is used to fund infrastructure projects and product development initiatives and the Owings Park Maintenance Fund is money that comes from industries in the industrial park to fund landscaping, signage and utilities in the common areas.”
LCDC receives “on an annual basis, the $360,000 appropriation to go towards our operations that comes off the top of the gross FILOT revenue” (FILOT stands for the “fees-in-lieu-of-taxes” paid by industries).
For its $360,000, the county helps fund a 3-person staff, extensive travel and networking, training, marketing and social media presence that shares a location with the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce in the Professional Park between Clinton and Laurens. Additional LCDC activities are financed by member-investors.
LCDC belongs to the 10-county, 9-city Upstate Alliance, and its Executive Director John Lummus provided an update on a new initiative, Move Up Upstate SC.
Through a website and social media, the alliance is encouraging people worldwide to move to Upstate South Carolina. This will enhance the workforce and promote entrepreneurship in the still-growing Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson I-85 Corridor.
“Laurens County has an incredible location. The I-385 growth is coming your way,” Lummus said. “We have been working on this initiative for a year and a half. It is a tool to bring more people to the Upstate.”
In 2009, the Upstate employment rate was 11.8 percent. In 2018, joblessness was 3.4 percent. Lummus said while that is “good news,” it means serious competition among manufacturers for people who aren’t working but want to work, and for people willing to change jobs and even places of residence.
Through Move Up, people have access to a Jobs Board (listing with the Indeed jobs-posting service), information about cities, jobs by category, employers, resources to find a job and brochures. For communities looking to attract jobs, Lummus said the most important factors are cost of living, quality of life, and job availabilities.