Secret Project Could Create 500 Jobs

FAIRFIELD – County Council held a public hearing on July 17 and passed second reading on a number of agenda items they hope will pave the way for a $7.5 million economic development project that could bring 500 jobs to the county over five years. The project has been given a code name, Project Palmetto, by the S.C. Department of Commerce. Fairfield County Economic Development Director Tiffany Harrison said the project is a manufacturing operation.

The vote authorized the execution and delivery of an infrastructure credit agreement between the County and Project Palmetto and the purchase of property adjacent to the I-77 Corridor Regional Industrial Park in Fairfield County. That property would be leased back to the company.

County Council Chairman David Ferguson (District 5) explained that while the County owns a 75,000-square-foot spec building that is available, “It in no way is large enough to accommodate this company’s operations,” he said.

Ferguson assured the audience that the citizens of Fairfield County would be pleased when the County could finally share with them more specific details about the company.

As in previous weeks, a large crowd was in attendance, filling the Council chambers and spilling into an overflow room. As they addressed Council with much frustration over a number of hot button issues, several questioned why Council would not disclose more about the code-named project.

“We’re running on a trust deficit,” said Bob Carrison. “There are ways to tell people things without letting all the data out.”

Interim County Administrator Milton Pope explained that economic development laws in South Carolina are very specific regarding coded projects.

“If certain confidential information is released, we could actually lose a prospect. After third reading and the contract is signed,” Pope said, “we will have full disclosure.”

Pope also suggested that Council hold a work session in the near future to explain fully the confidentiality and constraints that are required of all governments regarding economic development issues.

“We are following standard industry protocol,” Pope added.

Councilwoman Carolyn Robinson (District 2) explained to the audience that the special called meeting was necessary because the County was on a tight timeline to get the project approved.

Third and final reading on the project was held Wednesday, after The Voice’s press deadline.