An international manufacturing company will receive public money to move to Beaufort County and bring high-paying jobs if a deal with the county is finalized, but the company’s name hasn’t been disclosed.
The company would create 61 jobs — at least 45 full-time positions based in Beaufort County — and make a $2.5 million capital investment as part of an agreement with the county. The jobs would pay an average starting salary of $24 per hour.
On Monday, Beaufort County Council agreed to give the company $750,000 to invest in the property.
“It’s a great group of people,” council chairman Paul Sommerville said. “It looks like a great company. It’s something that fits right in with us in terms of our quality of life and what they do.”
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County officials say they are withholding the name to allow the company time to tell its employees about plans and that the resolution will eventually be changed to include the company name and voted on again. The company — identified only as Project Eagle — is expected to be revealed early next year.
“We let the public know how much we’re spending, what we’re spending it on and what the county is going to receive in return,” said Josh Gruber, deputy county administrator, adding that the county was happy to comply with the request for anonymity. “The only thing we haven’t released is the name, but we will when the time is appropriate.”
Sommerville and Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce president Blakely Williams also declined to name the company Wednesday.
Jay Bender, a longtime attorney with the S.C. Press Association, said the county is within its rights to withhold the name of the company. But he added that secrecy in economic development generally is designed to keep taxpayers in the dark and only benefits companies and consultants.
Two phone messages left for Councilman Gerald Dawson, who introduced the resolution and represents District 1 where the company will be based, were not immediately returned Wednesday.
The $750,000 grant is contingent upon the company meeting the job and investment numbers in the agreement. A vacant manufacturing building is the company’s target, Williams said in an email newsletter Tuesday. She declined to be more specific.
The building being considered is the Minster Machine building on Parker Drive, according to council member Brian Flewelling. He also declined to name the company involved.
The chamber worked with county council and staff and the S.C. Department of Commerce about 10 months to recruit the company, Williams said. Project Eagle is expected to begin hiring and operating in the first quarter of 2017.
The Beaufort Regional Chamber lauded the news as another victory for business expansion in the area, referencing Harris Pillow’s planned expansion to a larger facility on Parker Drive in northern Beaufort County and eviCore’s recent plan to grow its Bluffton facility.
“The 45 new jobs this company is creating in Beaufort will make a real difference in the lives of so many, and we look forward to seeing the impact it will have on the Lowcountry for a very long time,” Williams said.