Beaufort council discusses ways to entice tenants to commerce park

emoody@beaufortgazette.comJanuary 21, 2014 

  • In other business, City Council

    • Discussed adding a discussion about transitioning to an official mooring field to a future agenda.
    • Approved an extension to the contract on the former city hall at 302 Carteret St., where Lowcountry Produce Market and Cafe is. A special meeting was called to approve it because the existing lease ran out at the end of December, Councilman Mike McFee said. The lease extension is for a second, three-year term ending in 2017. Rent will remain $12 per square foot for 2014, because of substantial renovations the occupants have made, and will increase a dollar per year after that.

Suggested head: Beaufort council discusses ways to entice tenants to commerce park

It's been nearly two years since the city of Beaufort bought a $2.9 million industrial park, and it's still in search of a tenant.

City officials hope some new strategies will help, and they met Tuesday with the Lowcountry Economic Alliance to discuss ways to market the Beaufort Commerce Park to prospective businesses.

With fewer resources and less money than competitive parks and cities, focus needs to be put on differentiating Beaufort from other areas of the state and highlighting unique programs, alliance executive director Kim Statler told Beaufort City Council during a work session.

Avalanche Consulting has created the strategy, but Statler said the full text could not be released to the public because it is proprietary.

"We don't want everyone to know how we're going to do it," she said.

Avalanche Consulting president Amy Holloway presented the strategy to the alliance board Jan. 14, saying businesses in Germany and eastern Canada are prime recruits for the area.

Statler said the alliance and the city should focus on specific businesses and industries and seek opportunities on their own, rather than through group trips organized by the state.

The $40,000 the alliance has for marketing also pales in comparison with the budgets of larger areas, and the incentives packages are also less.

What Beaufort does have, city manager Scott Dadson said, is "a piece of dirt we're more than happy to negotiate with" and the alliance's Transitional Workforce Educational Assistance Collaborative.

Known as TWEAC, the program is designed to eventually help coordinate job training for military personnel exiting the three Beaufort County bases.

Currently, it is focused more on assisting those military members find jobs that suit their abilities and keep them in the community.

The alliance can use TWEAC as a carrot to entice companies to move to a community with up about 1,000 exiting military members a year, who could be trained as a ready workforce, Statler said.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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