New Beaufort Commerce Park tenant to be announced next week, officials say

emoody@beaufortgazette.comJune 13, 2013 

An economic-development deal that county officials have referred to only by code name could bring a new tenant to the beleaguered Beaufort Commerce Park.

Details about "Project Robot" should be revealed at a news conference tentatively set for Thursday, according to Kim Statler, executive director of the Lowcountry Economic Alliance, which is helping broker the deal.

On Monday, Beaufort County Council approved an $850,000 incentive package to lure the company to the area. Councilman Stu Rodman said the money would buy a piece of industrial equipment that the county would own and that the company would maintain.

County officials have provided few other details.

The S.C. Department of Commerce also is offering incentives and vetted the deal for the county, Rodman said. Terms of that agency's proposal also have been kept secret.

Government bodies are allowed to discuss most aspects of economic-development plans behind closed doors, but their terms must be disclosed after any deal is signed.

At a Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce roundtable that included local officials and the CEO of the S.C. Manufacturers Alliance, Statler indicated the target of Project Robot will move into the commerce park "immediately," working from a temporary building for a year or two until a permanent structure in the park is built.

The city of Beaufort bought the 209-acre-park in May 2012 for $1.85 million but has not attracted a tenant.

The park had previously been owned by the Lowcountry Economic Network, which lost the property in foreclosure before dissolving. The network was Beaufort County's economic-development partner and also was directed by Statler.

In December, Mayor Billy Keyserling said the city was pursuing a tenant for the park that pays wages "at or above" the state average. The average annual pay for a manufacturing job is $47,192, according to the S.C. Manufacturers Alliance website. Keyserling declined to say how many jobs would be created.

A second announcement is also planned for Thursday, Statler said. A smaller company, unrelated to Project Robot, is moving into a building off of U.S. 21, within about a mile of the Beaufort Commerce Park, she said. She said she could not reveal further information about that company, either.

Related content:

  1. Beaufort County defends handling of $850K business incentive, June 12, 2013
  2. City officials hope to announce new Beaufort Commerce Park tenant in 2013, Dec. 26, 2012
  3. One year out, Beaufort Commerce Park yet to announce new tenant, April 6, 2013

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