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The Laurens County Development Corporation will pay a sizable amount to ensure that industries in Northern Laurens County have Fire, EMS and Sheriff’s protection.

The agency’s board on Tuesday voted a $485,000 appropriation back to Laurens County for completion of the Northern Laurens County Emergency Services Facility. That will leave the county having to pay the remaining 20% of the completion expense. The State of South Carolina invested $900,000 in the building, which is substantially complete. There are no quarters for EMS personnel to spend the night, however, and an additional emergency vehicle bay needs to be added.

The LCDC money will come from $1.5 million in the fee-in-lieu-of-taxes projects account for the Octagon Industrial Park; industries pay these negotiated fees instead of property taxes. Laurens County uses $360,000 of FILOT money as its support of the LCDC and its industry-seeking and retaining efforts.

The action was taken by board members attending the May meeting at the Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Laurens (near the Walmart Distribution Center). The meeting was conducted in the building’s most recently completed section, so social distancing could be observed. Board members and LCDC staff also wore masks.

“The emergency building is next to ZF (Transmissions, Gray Court), but it serves the industrial corridor. From 9 to 5, it’s the most populous area of Laurens County,” said LCDC Executive Director Jon Coleman. Former State Rep. Mike Pitts secured the state grant to begin construction of the Northern Laurens County Emergency Services Facility, which will have an office space available for use by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office.

“Emergency management is more important than ever,” Coleman said. “This will help Laurens County finish the building, and bring it up to speed where it needs to be.”  

LCDC is paying 80% of the completion costs, and Laurens County will be responsible for 20% of the completion costs. Coleman said under current conditions, it’s a 20-25 minutes response time for a SWAT unit to come to a Northern Laurens County industry, if needed. The City of Fountain Inn is first-response to this area as things stand now. There are 6,000 people in this area during daytime working hours, Coleman said. 

The board approved financial statements, heard about economic development prospects, and received a report about how industries are responding to the Coronavirus threat. Coleman said auto-related industries have shut down but most other Laurens County industries have continued to work - only Asten Johnson in Clinton reported an active Coronavirus case, and the plant was closed and cleaned in response, the LCDC board was told.

The LCDC board normally meets every other month, and Coleman said the CAM will host the next board meeting, as well, to comply with social distancing recommendations.​