Oconee County Breaks Ground on Sewer Project to Attract Industry

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Oconee County, South Carolina’s westernmost county, has broken ground on an $8 million sewer project that will connect to a soon to be occupied industrial park near Interstate 85 reports CSA Business. The project is another step in Oconee County’s aggressive development of infrastructure and spec buildings to attract manufacturing.

At a groundbreaking ceremony held at the vacant Golden Corner Commerce Park, County Administrator Scott Moulder said the county has agreed to provide 50 acres to Pattillo Construction Corp. of Stone Mountain, Ga., to construct a spec building. He said the building will be about 75,000 square feet.

Funding for the 13 miles of sewer force main lines and related system facilities is mostly local, Moulder said. The county received state and federal grants totaling $1 million. Tugaloo Pipeline of Oconee County has been hired to do the work that will begin immediately, he said. The new sewer line will connect to the Coneross Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility and is the first phase of a plan to eventually extend the sewer system to the interstate

The 400-acre Golden Corner Commerce Park, which was previously farmland, is about 2 miles from the interstate on S.C. 59 and has about 235 buildable acres, said Richard Blackwell, the county’s economic development director.

Oconee County’s interstate frontage is halfway between Atlanta and Charlotte. The county has three county-owned industrial parks with more than 700 acres suitable for development and has built two spec buildings. Last year, the county completed its second spec building since 2006, funded by county economic development funds and utility tax credits. The first was sold in 2008 to Oconee-based Lift Technologies and the second sold to A.I.D. Co., a division of RBC Bearings. The company has already expanded and is relocating its workforce from Rabun County, Ga.

Blackwell said he and other county officials are focused on getting “ready for today’s economic development client. You’ve got to be ready. It’s all about speed to market. Oconee County has been successful in building spec buildings. We have built two and filled two, and we are in the process of getting our industrial parks to look like industrial parks. We know if we build it right and we do it right over time these parks will fill up.”

Stan Griffis, director of operations at A.I.D., spoke at the groundbreaking and praised local officials for aggressively pursuing a diversified manufacturing community. Griffis said before the ceremony that the company was looking to relocate and chose Oconee County because of the “availability of that building.”

“We were looking essentially within a 30-mile radius of our existing facility in Georgia,” Griffis said. “That building was the only spec building available in that 30 mile radius. We were not interested in a Greenfield Site so it was a very critical part of our decision making process.” He said the company will finish moving its 80 employees in January.

“Our biggest concern and one of the critical things we looked for was the availability of the workforce that could support our needs,” Griffis said. “We are a specialized industry in the aerospace industry and we have to have machinists and engineers and other technical people and we just did not see our location in Georgia as an opportunity to foster that type of workforce, so we were looking for that elsewhere.”

Earlier this year in Oconee County, the Sanctuary Pointe LLC development group announced plans to develop a public resort on Lake Hartwell. Read More.

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