We’ve Only Just Begun
If you haven’t heard about the new GE Research and Development facility located in the I-26 Commerce Park, you’re about a week late on the news. The City of Clinton is happy that GE has chosen our great community as its new home!
A Fortune 500 company such as GE will be a significant contributor to the development of the I-26 Commerce Park and it is a great fit for our overall master plan for the Exit 54 Area. I wish to extend a warm welcome to GE and look forward to a long-term relationship between our city and GE Renewable Energy.
But if you believe that GE just happened to land in our lap, you’re wrong. This took two years of hard work, with many different partners playing a key role. One of our key players was Pacolet Milliken, who sold the city land at a reduced rate, put $150,000 of their money into the sewer project for the park, and paid for the sign for the park’s entrance. Another was the Laurens County Development Corporation, specifically Jonathan Coleman, who was instrumental in handling many administrative details of this project.
I would also like to thank the Laurens County Council for their helpfulness in administrative details, and Clinton-Newberry Natural Gas for also being a key player by running a 4-inch gas line to the park (a contribution of just over $1 million!)
Another team member was the Clinton Economic Development Corporation, which guaranteed the lease (if the building did not sell) with money set aside by the city for economic development. This money was made available by the strong investment in economic development by the mayor and council. Building this structure was a bold move by council knowing that if it did not sell, the city would have been responsible for paying for it (at a cost of $2.7 million). I, for one, believe that if you are not willing to invest in yourself, why would anyone else?
Another major player was the SC Power Team, which contributed up to $388,000 to run water and sewer to our industrial park. The South Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority provided a $300,000 grant to provide sewer to our 100,000 sq-ft site-ready pad. Laurens Electric Cooperative provided another $800,000 in utility tax credit money to be used for the road and infrastructure. ATT&T provided $75,000 by way of the utility tax credit grant. And Santee Cooper provided a $570,000 grant for park development.
Lastly, over a year ago, the city made a decision to bring Marvin Moss on as a part-time economic development director for the City of Clinton. But even though he was considered part-time, Marvin has worked tirelessly to see this project become a reality.
I also want to thank developer John McClure for sharing in the vision of our city and its future. When you start thanking people, there is always the danger of leaving someone out. My point here is that it took many different people to make this project happen. Thanks to all!
What’s next? The Chronicle stated in its editorial on June 28th that it believes that we should build another building. I wholeheartedly agree with that decision! Our team’s next step should be just that.
We must assemble a team of working partners for our next spec building. The Department of Commerce has stated that over 80% of all new industries are looking for an existing building. I firmly believe that the current spec building is part of why GE chose Clinton. The next spec building should be in the 50,000 to 60,000 sq-ft range so that it is not in competition with the CPW spec building being built in Hunter Industrial Park. With BMW in Spartanburg County adding an additional 1,000 jobs and Samsung adding close to 1,000 jobs in Newberry, Clinton is centrally located for suppliers of these two plants.
In other words, now is not the time to celebrate.
Now is the time to put the foot on the accelerator, and keep moving forward. And with the new landscaping and sign at the I-26/Hwy 72 Interchange, and also the $626,000 grant the city received from the Community Infrastructure program to upgrade water lines in the Clinton Mill neighborhood, it is clear that we are definitely moving in the direction that we all want to go. When I ran for city council back in 2009, I ran to help make our city government more efficient for its citizens, and to return Clinton to the prosperity it once had. I will continue to work towards this effort everyday as your mayor.
(Bob McLean is Mayor of the City of Clinton.)