Beaufort News

Firearms manufacturer to open Ridgeland plant

A firearms manufacturing company will open a plant in Ridgeland that's expected to bring 100 jobs and $5.3 million in investment, state and local officials announced Tuesday.

Georgia-based Daniel Defense Inc. will buy and renovate a 90,000-square-foot foreclosed property on Firefly Drive. The property was originally intended for a home-building company that never got off the ground, Lowcountry Economic Alliance executive director Kim Statler said.

Ridgeland and Jasper County councils unanimously approved a deal Tuesday designating the property as a multi-county park, which allows them to offer incentives. Daniel Defense will pay fees based on a 6 percent property assessment rate as opposed to 10.5 percent, Statler said.

One percent of those proceeds will go to Beaufort County as the partner in the multi-county park. The rest will go to Jasper County.

The fee schedule has not yet been determined, Statler said.

To qualify, Daniel Defense must provide 100 jobs that pay at least the average county wage of $13.48 an hour, according to the agreement. The company also received state incentives, including a performance-based job development credit, according to the state Department of Commerce, which also was involved in the deal.

The company's $5.3 million investment will include the purchase of the building and surrounding 19.56 acres. The 11-year-old company outgrew its 30,000-square-foot plant in Black Creek, Ga., founder Marty Daniel said.

Daniel Defense engineers and manufactures parts, accessories and small firearms, primarily for military and law enforcement. The new plant will give the company "room to grow," Daniel said. Having a building already on the site was a major selling point, he added, and the company expects to be operating there by Dec. 1.

Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling and Hardeeville Mayor Bronco Bostick were among those who joined Jasper and Ridgeland officials at Tuesday's announcement.

Ridgeland Mayor Gary Hodges said the company will boost the local economy and have a ripple effect on other counties. Coming on the heels of a similar agreement in Jasper County with Be Green Packaging, the announcement signals that the area "is a place to locate your business," he added.

The Lowcountry Economic Alliance helped structure the deal, its chairman, Gregg Malphrus, said.

The alliance is a regional economic development partnership between Beaufort and Jasper counties. Beaufort County's contribution is staff and resources from the Lowcountry Economic Network, which recently voted to dissolve.

Statler, whom officials at the meeting credited for bringing the company to Ridgeland, said she hoped the announcement would prove that Beaufort and Jasper counties fare "better regionally than individually" when it comes to economic development.Statler said the Lowcountry Economic Alliance was the "marketing arm" to the Lowcountry Economic Network's "implementation arm." The alliance remains active, she said.

Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/blufftonblogip.

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