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CRR Carbon Resources Recovery SC LLC, which uses recycled tires to manufacture renewable energy products, plans to invest $20 million in a new Anderson County facility that will employ 30 people, the S.C. Department of Commerce announced Friday.

The Commerce Department said CRR would work in a joint venture with an unnamed partner that can design, finance, develop, construct, operate and manage large-scale energy projects. Additional details about the joint venture and CRR were unavailable.

Read the full article from GSA Business.

Top States for Doing Business 2014: Georgia Unseats Texas, Industrial Midwest Rises

By Area Development

Sparking growth in business investment and jobs has proven more difficult than expected for states as they have emerged from the Great Recession. Capital spending and, especially, job creation have remained below par as corporate chiefs and business owners stick with a conservative philosophy until they perceive signs of a true boom. So the fight for the attention of site consultants and CFOs is more pitched than ever.

With that in mind, Area Development is publishing our fifth annual Top States for Doing Business survey of site consultants, ranking the states based on their number of mentions by the consultants in three overall categories and 18 subcategories:

Business Environment: overall cost of doing business, incentive programs, corporate tax environment, cooperative state government, access to capital and project funding, speed of permitting, most favorable regulatory environment

Labor Climate: availability of skilled labor, competitive labor costs, labor climate for right-to-work states, labor climate for non-right-to-work states, leading workforce-development programs

Infrastructure and Global Access: distribution and supply-chain hubs, rail and highway access, certified sites/shovel-ready programs, competitive utility rates, energy reliability and smart-grid deployment, water outlook, including availability and cost

Three major features of the list pop up. First, it continues to be dominated by states in the South and mid-South that have managed to extend the momentum in landing business development that they have enjoyed for some time (mostly, these states just switched positions within the top 10).

Second — and probably more intriguing because it is a new development — the list includes two states from the industrial Midwest. The presence of Indiana and Ohio on the 2014 list indicates that these states in particular, and the upper Midwest in general, are scratching their way back into position as major players in the U.S. economic-development derby.

And third, the state of California finally proved unable, in the new list, to hang on to its 10th place ranking in the 2013 survey. The state’s reputation with site consultants keeps taking hits — witness Toyota’s announcement earlier this year that it plans to move its corporate headquarters and 4,000 jobs to suburban Dallas from southern California. And so this year, California placed in the top states in only three of the 18 sub-categories, notably ranking third for access to capital and project funding, no doubt a legacy of the continued success of Silicon Valley.

The following profiles of each of the top 10 states provide insight into why each state is among the surveyed consultants’ top choices for new and expanded facilities.

3. South Carolina

The Palmetto State long has been held in high regard by the economic development community, but South Carolina picked up two huge new testimonials this year from a couple of the biggest names in global manufacturing. BMW and Boeing each announced crucial new and expanded roles for their South Carolina operations.

The companies could cite South Carolina advantages such as its low overall cost of doing business (site consultants ranked the state No. 1 in this regard). The state was also given especially high marks for its incentive programs, cooperative state government, and certified sites/shovel-readiness in the Area Development survey. Site consultants ranked South Carolina No. 2 for all three of the aforementioned factors.

Probably the most consistent advantage of South Carolina is the quality of its workforce. South Carolina is a right-to-work state with a low unionization rate of 3.3 percent overall, and — at 1.3 percent — the lowest unionization rate in the United States for the private sector.

The state’s ReadySC workforce-training system includes recruiting, screening, training, and other aspects of workforce preparation. ReadySC, for example, committed to help Boeing hire 3,600 people over the next several years. And that was even before Boeing committed to producing the new stretch version of the Dreamliner at its plant in North Charleston, S.C., which will become the first Boeing jetliner model to be built solely in a nonunion factory.

Meanwhile, BMW said it would expand its plant in Spartanburg County with a $1 billion investment that will create 800 new jobs and make the facility the biggest exporter of autos anywhere in the United States.

Read the full article from Area Development here.

Oconee County officials are readying an industry site that already has infrastructure in place and rail connections, including a direct link to the S.C. Inland Port at Greer. County Economic Development Director Richard Blackwell said the tract purchased by the county in 2012 offers incentives as a New Markets Tax Credit zone.

Blackwell said the county paid $400,000 for the 111 acres that had been owned by Propex Operating Co. LLC when the business moved.

“We are looking at developing it as a rail park,” Blackwell said today. He said the site will be ready within 12 to 18 months as trees are being removed and the county is working on certification. Blackwell said officials have been told the site will accommodate three rail spurs and a spec building could possibly be built.

Blackwell said businesses can benefit from the rail lines to send and receive products overnight through the inland port to Charleston. He said the Oconee County site near Shiloh Road and U.S. 123 is 3 miles from the county airport and 6 miles from Clemson.

Blackwell said the site is in a federally designated “economically distressed area” and qualifies for a new market tax credit, an incentive that amounts to 1/3 of a company’s investment. He said the incentives have been used in developing Greenville’s West End.

Read the full article from GSA Business.

Commerce awards $13.3 million in Community Development Block Grant funds

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Communities across the state are slated to benefit from public improvement projects supported by nearly $13.3 million in funds from the latest round of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The South Carolina Department of Commerce is awarding CDBG funds to these 24 local municipalities, representing 12,591 residents, for the following projects: 

Berkeley County - Horseshoe Neighborhood Water Extension - $269,350

Town of Bluffton - Possum Point Sewer Extension - $320,000

Town of Cameron - Cameron Drainage Improvements - $750,000

City of Darlington - South Main Sewer Upgrade - $472,160

City of Easley - West End Sewer Upgrade - $719,475

Town of Greeleyville - Sewer Extension - $362,150

City of Greenwood - Water Upgrade - $487,700

Greenwood County - Sullivan Sewer Upgrade - $700,000

Hampton County - Brunson/Gifford Water Interconnection - $1,000,000

Town of Heath Springs - Water Upgrade - $405,500

Town of Iva - Water Tank - $750,000

Town of Jonesville - Alman Street Water & Sewer Upgrade - $547,093

Laurens County - Joanna Mill Water & Sewer Upgrade - $387,295

Town of Lockhart - Sewer Upgrade - $607,290

City of Newberry - West End Mill Village Water/Sewer Upgrades - $706,863

Town of Olanta - Well and Water Treatment Facility - $750,000

Town of Ridgeland - Wise Street Pump Station - $399,565

Town of Ulmer - Highway 301 Water Upgrade - $391,314

City of Union - May Street Sewer Upgrade - $343,490

City of Walterboro - Hampton Street Area Water Upgrade - $750,000

Town of Williamston - Pinecrest Drive Sewer Upgrade - $445,487

Town of Williston - Elko Area Water Upgrade - $385,940

Town of Winnsboro - Sewer Transmission Line Upgrade - $564,103

Town of Yemassee - Sewer Upgrade - $750,000 

"The success of our business recruitment starts with having strong infrastructure and a good quality of life," said Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt. "Through these improvements to public infrastructure, we continue to help 'set the table' for economic development in communities across South Carolina." 

Commerce awards CDBG funds in the fall and the spring of each year. Selected through a statewide competitive process, local governments receiving CDBG funding are required to provide at least a 10 percent match in funding to complete the projects. Approximately 69 percent of the 12,591 citizens that will benefit from the improvements in this grant round are considered in low- to moderate-income residents. Additionally, 96 percent of funds awarded will directly impact residents in Tier II, III and IV counties, which are not considered to be "developed." 

Grant funds are allocated on an annual basis to South Carolina from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Department of Commerce administers the CDBG program on the state's behalf. CDBG assists communities in providing housing, a suitable living environment and expanded economic opportunities. 

All grants awarded through the CDBG program must meet at least one of three objectives:

  • Benefit low- and moderate-income persons.
  • Aid in the prevention or elimination of slums and blighting conditions.
  • Meet other urgent community development needs where existing conditions pose a serious and immediate threat to public health and welfare, and where other financial resources are not readily available to meet such needs. 

For additional information on South Carolina's CDBG program, including application guidelines and frequently asked questions, please visit www.cdbgsc.com. 

Officials from three of the Upstate's largest companies are announcing today the hiring of a person to coordinate efforts to encourage young people to go into science, technology, engineering and math careers.

The Upstate SC STEM Task Force, which coordinated the planning for the new program called the Upstate SC STEM Collaborative, also is developing a website that will help students and their families and teachers discover after-school activities that could enhance their education in those fields.

"We're going to offer it to the entire state, because this has never been done nationwide, and we want to encourage our entire state of South Carolina to be on board with this," said Marjorie Dowd, director of business partnerships for Greenville County Schools.

The announcement today at Embassy Suites is the culmination of a two-year process started by Fluor, GE and Michelin as part of an effort to develop a more technically qualified workforce by drawing together various programs working in that direction.

Read the full article from the Greenville News Online.

The fact that the nuclear industry is significant in South Carolina surprises few people, but the $20 billion scope of its yearly economic impact in the Carolinas just might.

A new study by Clemson University says employment and corporate activity from energy production at the 12 commercial nuclear plants in South Carolina and North Carolina are primary factors, along with jobs and new construction at the federal Savannah River Site in Aiken County and waste disposal in Barnwell County, even using conservative figures.

At least 29,000 jobs are generated directly by the nuclear industry in the two states, the report released Wednesday said - 71,000 others indirectly - which generate $4.2 billion in direct and indirect pay each year along with almost $1 billion in state and local taxes.

"The nicest thing for me is being able to validate that the Carolinas is really a leader in nuclear energy for the United States," said Jim Little, Carolinas' Nuclear Cluster chairman, who also is a 40-year veteran of the nuclear industry.

Read more from The State.

Railway operator Norfolk Southern today kicked off a daily rail service for moving cargo between Charleston and S.C. State Ports Authority's new rail yard in the Upstate, officials said today.

The train service allows companies to transport shipping containers to and from SPA's so-called inland port, a nearly 100-acre facility that opened weeks ago near Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport.

The inland port is a nearly $50 million project with costs shared between SPA and Norfolk Southern.

Read the full article from Post and Courier.

As the South Carolina Inland Port was announcing the beginning of regular service for all ocean carriers and clients today, Greer Economic Development Executive Director Reno Deaton was illustrating its impact on Greer to City Council.

The first regular departure from Charleston to Greer was Tuesday, with the start of regular arrivals and departures at SCIP on Wednesday. The Greer port has spent nearly a month finessing all facets of the transportation facility.

Deaton told City Council the total number of new inquiries and prospects "coming into our pipeline in 2013 was very robust. It's been a very consistent level of activity. April on that number picks up, no small coincidence that April was groundbreaking (March 1) for the inland port facility. That new project for us has been tremendous for new business activity."

BMW Manufacturing Co. of Greer is the cornerstone tenant at the inland port. It's $13.4 million, 414,000 square foot warehouse sits just yards away from the port, on property leased from Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport.

Read the full article from GreerToday.com

Duke Energy Carolinas proposes to build a 750-megawatt combined-cycle natural gas plant at its recently shuttered W.S. Lee coal-powered facility in Anderson County, S.C.

The N.C. Electric Membership Corp. would be a minority partner in the proposed plan, owning 100 megawatts of the capacity.

Duke says no final decision has been made to build the plant. But it says that, at this point, it is prudent to start the process of getting permission for the project.

Duke and NCEMC made a filing with the S.C. Public Service Commission late Thursday, asking for a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the proposed plant.

"The energy needs of our customers are significant over the next 15 years," says Clark Gillespy, Duke's S.C. president. "Our commitment is to meet our customers' needs in a way that balances affordable, reliable and increasingly clean electricity, and this project will help us satisfy that need."

Read the full article from the Charlotte Business Journal.

As one of the largest automotive exporters in the U.S., BMW has announced the expansion of the company's export program to emerging markets. Originally announced in 2011 to support export of BMW X3 Sports Activity Vehicles to certain countries, BMW will now expand this operation to include the new BMW X5. To support this expansion, the company will relocate its export operation, currently in Duncan, S.C., to a new building being developed adjacent to the new South Carolina Inland Port (SCIP) in Greer, SC.

"Our export program enables BMW to invest in new markets where we see potential for future growth," said Josef Kerscher, President of BMW Manufacturing Co. "Since 2011, demand for the X3 from emerging markets has nearly doubled and we believe the X5 will follow this trend."

BMW will continue to partner with syncreon, who will manage the company's warehousing and logistics operation, preparing shipments of parts and components to markets such as Russia, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt.

Read the full article from upstatebizSC.

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