Monday, April 28, 2014
Duke Energy has selected a Williamsburg County property for participation in its 2014 Site Readiness Program. Five sites have been selected to participate in the program to prepare properties for potential industrial development.
A 314-acre site in Kingstree was chosen as it offers the area a chance to diversify and increase its tax base and compete regionally for new jobs and industry, according to a press release issued by the largest electric power holding company in the United States.
Williamsburg County Development Board Executive Director Hilton McGill said Williamsburg County is very fortunate to participate in the program. “In today’s economic development world, most projects are being driven by consultants,” said McGill. “Consultants typically do not look at sites that are not certified. This allows us to put properties up in Williamsburg County that are certified and can be in play for future economic development projects.”
The Site Readiness Program is the cornerstone of Duke Energy’s economic development model. It identifies, evaluates and improves industrial sites in the company’s service territory to help communities served by the utility compete for new companies and jobs. McGill said the program allows the county to provide the services at little or not expense to the taxpayers of Williamsburg County. “It is a win, win situation for everyone,” said McGill.
Ideal candidates for the program are 75 acres or larger and served by the utility. A qualified site can be suited for a single, large industrial facility or data center, or a potential industrial park (multi-tenant site). Other sites are located in Marion, Florence, Chesterfield and Bennettsville.
Duke Energy has hired McCallum Sweeney Con-sulting, a nationally known consulting firm, to conduct site studies. McCallum Sweeney has been instrumental in many high-profile automotive and industrial relocations and expansions.
Duke Energy will collaborate with county leaders and local economic development professionals to develop a strategy for providing water, sewer, natural gas and electricity to the sites. The parties also will recommend road improvements, easements and rights-of-way that will be required to develop the sites, as well as steps necessary to mitigate any potential environmental impacts. Duke Energy will present its findings -- including a detailed report and conceptual drawings -- to county officials when the studies are completed. After each site’s state of readiness has advanced, Duke Energy’s business development team will strategically market each of them nationwide to companies looking to expand or relocate their operations. “We are pleased to have these five counties in the program,” said Stu Heishman, Duke Energy’s Vice President for economic and business development in a press release. He said since the Site Readiness Program began in 2006, Duke Energy has evaluated 114 sites in the Carolinas. “We’ve been successful,” he added. “So far, we’ve won 12 major projects on those properties, resulting in approximately 2,100 jobs and approximately $2.9 billion in capital investment.”Duke Energy’s overall economic development program has also been consistently named by Site Selection magazine as one of the nation’s Top 10 Utility Economic Development Programs.