Orangeburg County Council Monday gave first reading, by title only, to a performance-based tax incentive agreement for Orangeburg County's largest manufacturing employer, Husqvarna, in preparation for expected future capital investment at the company's Orangeburg plant.
Council amended its agenda to include a resolution that county attorney D'Anne Haydel said "started the clock running" regarding what is to be invested by Husqvarna. The resolution, however, does not dictate the terms of the deal.
The ordinances are amendments to an existing fee-in-lieu-of-taxes pact and the initiation of a new agreement in anticipation of new investment.
The details of these ordinances, according to County Administrator Bill Clark, won't be available until third reading.
The resolution and the two ordinances were passed unanimously by council.
Under the standard fee-in-lieu-of-taxes inducement agreement, in exchange for its investment the company will pay a 6 percent assessment ratio rather than the usual 10.5 percent industrial assessment.
Gregg Robinson, executive director of the County Development Commission, said Husqvarna is planning to invest in capital - machinery and equipment - and to maintain existing levels of employment.
"This is a solid indication that successful international companies are choosing Orangeburg County to continue to grow," Robinson said.
"This type of investment is proof that Husqvarna is profitable and that they are a partner here for a long time. It provides the confidence to the community that Husqvarna is here to stay."
Robinson declined comment on the specific dollar amount of the investment, saying the figures will be released on final third reading.
Husqvarna officials could not be reached for comment Monday.
South Carolina law allows counties to enter into a negotiated agreement for a fee in lieu of local property taxes with a company if total capital investment is $1 million or greater.
Earlier this year, Husqvarna announced it would shut down its Nebraska plant and move its production lines to Orangeburg. The Beatrice, Nebraska facility employs 390 people in the production of zero-turn-radius mowers and specialty turf equipment.
While the Orangeburg plant will add some jobs as the result of the consolidation, the action was taken to make the company more efficient, said John Marchionda, vice president for marketing in Charlotte, N.C.
Husqvarna is Orangeburg County's largest employer, with an average of approximately 1,500 employees making riding lawn tractors, tillers and snow throwers. Employment fluctuates with the seasons.
The company previously announced it planned to make structural changes in the U.S. and Europe to reduce costs. Officials says the company is consolidating operations in Orangeburg to eliminate overlap and duplication.
Husqvarna is the world's largest producer of outdoor power products, including chain saws, trimmers, lawn mowers and garden tractors.
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