SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION
ECONOMIC INCENTIVES PROGRAMS
Region's "Certified Business Ready" Program Offers Incentives to Companies
Challenging conditions in today's economy have created an atmosphere of uncertainty for many individuals regarding both personal and business financial choices.
In the industrial arena, the decision to seize newly created opportunities to build or expand is measured against the risk and cost in today's economy.
In early 2008, several counties in South Carolina known as the "Southern Carolina region" worked together to launch a program to certify their workforce, industrial sites, and incentives to create a competitive edge for their rural area.
"Our Certified Business Ready® program could not have been implemented at a better time for American and international business," says Danny Black, President of SouthernCarolina Alliance, the region's economic development organization. "Because of the variables in the financial world over the last year, certification, credibility and assurance are more important than ever to decision makers and location consultants."
According to Black, "These decision makers need credible, verifiable information regarding industrial sites and workforce to make the best decisions in an increasingly competitive arena. At the same time, our certified industrial sites, existing infrastructure, and good Southeastern location were identified as our foremost marketable strengths by some of the country's leading consultants in economic development."
"The consultants also cited the good work ethic of our labor force, our ability to offer the maximum tax and business incentives and our professional staff," added Black. "All of these factors can reduce costs for the client, bring speed to the start up process, and reduce risk in economic development projects."
Based on these assets, SouthernCarolina Alliance launched the "Certified Business Ready" brand for the SCA region.
The Southern Carolina region of South Carolina is a rural area which boasts 10 S.C. Department of Commerce state-certified sites, which have undergone a rigorous certification process. The process includes certification of the site's characteristics, including zoning; mapping; utility and transportation infrastructure; wetlands, ESA, and endangered species assessments; archeological investigation; preliminary geotechnical study; recordable boundary surveys and topographic survey.
"We have 10 sites, some of which are over 1,000 acres, which have been certified at this level," said Black. "Having this detailed certification with truly shovel ready sites has played a huge role in our landing several of our larger projects over the last five years."
In addition, the region implemented a regional workforce development effort over the last two years focused on the nationally recognized WorkKeys® certification and testing program to build a certified pool of available workers.
A standard to measure industrial skills, the WorkKeys® Program helped the region build the second aspect of the Certified Business Ready® program.
"We not only have state certified sites, we can offer a nationally certified workforce," says Black, "which has played a critical part in our last two major projects. Using the WorkKeys® certification system and having those workers already tested removes a great deal of uncertainty and cost from the project."
In addition to certified sites and workforce, The Certified Business Ready® program refers to the SCA region's certified incentives, acceptance and assistance.
The region offers some of the best tax incentives in the Southeast, and in December 2008, the four counties passed a unique regional, multi-county incentive for qualifying projects.
"Projects can qualify for more than 51 incentives, including the regional multi-county tax incentive, which adds another $1,000 tax credit per job created for a qualifying project," says Black.
Certified approval is provided through SouthernCarolina Alliance's ability to map out the permitting process and provide the state's leading experts to handle permitting and environmental questions for the client. Certified acceptance is offered by the local communities in the SCA region, which welcome innovative industries with designated industrial areas for site-challenged industries with specific site requirements, such as buffered locations with rail access or isolation from heavy residential or retail areas.
Certified Assistance refers to SCA's hands-on approach to walking the client through the project and providing the most professional staff.
"In short, the Certified Business Ready® program conveys efficiency, low cost, credibility and the best possible conditions for the client in all of the factors identified as important to prospects," said Black.
Currently, the Southern Carolina region is focused on certifying a new industrial "mega-site" with rail, located just off I-95 in Hampton County, South Carolina.
"The Certified Business Ready® program is important to us and to our clients, and we plan to continue to develop our inventory of certified sites," says Black.
"The newest site will have more than 1,300 acres available with the option on another 5,000. We're getting it ready to market now."
For more information on the Southern Carolina region and the Certified Business Ready® program, visit the website at www.SouthernCarolina.org or contact Danny Black at 803.541.0023.
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