January 12, 2007
Published Fri, Jan 12, 2007
By JIM FABER
The Island Packet
>BLUFFTON — When a new factory, office park or shopping center opens, there’s a long, complex path that must be traveled from its beginnings to the ribbon cutting — a path called economic development.
On Thursday, elected officials from all over Beaufort County gathered at the Technical College of the Lowcountry’s New River Campus for a day-long session titled "Why Economic Development Matters to Beaufort County."
The series of seminars, hosted by the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Beaufort-Hilton Head Economic Partnership and the South Carolina Developer’s Association, was meant to demystify the process for elected officials.
Here are some of the lessons presented:
Although the state’s industrial-property taxes are almost prohibitively high, South Carolina allows local governments to match any tax rate anywhere in the U.S., said Burnie Maybank, an attorney with Nexsen Pruet.
Offering some incentives isn’t giving away money or selling out to business, either, he said. New manufacturing projects in the state either don’t pay property taxes for the first five years or they can take advantage of a long-term tax incentive. So, one way or another, there will be a tax break, Maybank said.
There’s a lot of power when local governments work together as a region.
When one of the 10 counties in the Upstate Alliance in South Carolina talked about leaving, that group’s president and CEO, Hal Johnson, reminded the county it only paid $13,000 into the economic development group.
That money would get one big ad in one trade publication, or it could go to the group, translating into appearances at a dozen trade shows, inclusion on a powerful Web site, international exposure and other advantages, Johnson said.
The county stayed in the group.
Working as a region is "effective, it’s efficient and it gives the region more clout," Johnson said.
Local governments should focus on providing high-quality, abundant infrastructure for water service, sewer treatment and transportation, said Deepal Eliatamby, president of Alliance Consulting Engineers.
The other stuff is dictated by market forces. Telecom companies, natural gas utilities and electric companies will take care of their business with ease if there is an attractive client to sign up, Eliatamby said.
Contact Jim Faber at 706-8137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.