County getting ‘on the radar’ for economic development

By Bobby Bryant, Editor

Darlington County economic-development officials have spent this year networking, making connections and working to get the county “on the radar” for business projects. Lewis Brown, who became the county’s economic-development director early in the year, briefed County Council Nov. 1 on progress his department has made so far. Brown, a former County Council member, is running the department with the aid of Bobby Kilgo, another former councilman. “First off, there was a concerted effort by our team to make introductions to industry leaders,” Brown said. In particular, they have focused on the S.C. Department of Commerce. “I know we weren’t necessarily on the radar with the S.C. Department of Commerce,” he said. “Mr. (Charles) Stewart (county administrator), Mr. Kilgo and I made a trip very early in February to introduce ourselves” to agency leaders. “I think the S.C. Department of Commerce knows and recognizes Darlington County now.” Brown said they also have focused on the county’s industrial park at Interstate 20 after meeting with a corporate “site selector” who was looking at locations in Darlington and Florence counties in March. “We went to the I-20 park,” Brown said. “And if you’ve ever read anybody’s body language, you know (when) you’re not in the game. And it was obvious pretty quickly that we weren’t in the game. … I don’t think Florence was, either.” Brown said he later called the Chicago-based site selector and asked why Darlington County’s industrial park seemed to fall short. “I got a litany of things he said we needed to do. It was eye-opening. So we set an action plan immediately for what we needed to do to get our industrial parks, plural, in condition.” They obtained a $250,000 state grant for work at the I-20 park, along with other funds, Brown said. “One of the biggest complaints we got (about that park) …. The site selector said the biggest thing, when he walked out, he thought he was looking at a forest – that’s the way he put it.” County officials have had most of the trees there mulched and sold to paper mills, Brown said. “If you go to the I-20 park now, there are just a few isolated trees that are left standing.” Brown noted that the abandoned, contaminated Galey & Lord textile plant on the outskirts of Society Hill is close to joining the priority list for federal Superfund cleanup, which would open the way to future redevelopment there. (County Council has passed a resolution supporting putting the Galey & Lord site on the Superfund list.)

Author: Stephan Drew

Share This Post On

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Posts Remaining