Local economic development officials and community leaders unveiled the region's newest industrial site on Friday.
But Tri-County Electric Cooperative Chief Executive Officer Chad Lowder said it’s not just another industrial site.
"This is a catalysis of investment for job creation and economic growth,” he said.
The 380-acre Tri-County Global Industrial Site is located near the U.S. Highway 601 and Interstate 26 interchange.
The certified site has received all the necessary environmental assessments. About 80 acres have been cleared, grubbed and graded. Another 20 acres of the property have been thinned.
A 45-acre pad site has been finished which can accommodate up to 2 million square feet of industry.
"We believe that this site is one of the premier locations for industry in the state," Lowder said. "It has mainline Norfolk Southern rail access and is located along Interstate 26. These unique benefits make this site extremely attractive to prospects and will enable us to locate a great industry for the region."
"We have shown it a couple of times," Lowder continued. "The biggest thing is they have to have a guarantee for wastewater and water and gas."
The Orangeburg Department of Public Utilities will provide water, gas and sewer to the property.
Water and natural gas are expected to be completed toward the end of 2019, with sewer infrastructure to be complete by the middle of 2020.
The site's electric service is provided directly by Tri-County Electric Cooperative.
Santee Cooper has already placed a solar farm on the interstate frontage part of the property. It will serve the industrial park and other customers.
Sen. John Matthews, D-Bowman, said, "I have seen economic growth rapidly moving up from the Charleston area, Summerville and it will be here soon.
"Most industrial prospects, they don't know what you can get, they want to know what you’ve got. … You have to be ready if you want to compete in this job market."
Rep. Russell Ott, D-St. Matthews, described the property as having “pretty much everything you can possibly ask for.”
"I really think coming across I-26 on this side of 26 truly does signal progress and movement toward Calhoun County which is so important," he said. "I see a bunch of jobs, improvement and quality of life."
Orangeburg County Council Chairman Johnnie Wright described the partnership between Calhoun and Orangeburg counties as one of the most successful displays of teamwork in the region.
"I think we are on the road and we will move forward," he said.
Calhoun County Council Vice Chairman James Haigler recalled when he was growing up, U.S. 601 had one store.
"Look at it now with all the hotels and eating places. ... It shows you what can be done when people do things together," he said.
Haigler said future generations will be able to reap the fruits of their labors.
Tri-County Electric Cooperative Board Chair Barbara Weston says she has faith in the project.
"When I look around and we see all the evidence of things that we cannot even see, that is our hope for tomorrow, our vision," she said.
South Carolina Department of Commerce Director of Global Business Nelson Lindsay said a site with rail is a jewel.
"Good rail sites are few and far in between," he said. "When you are able to bring one on line, it is very critical. Not every project is going to need rail but the ones that do are generally higher in capital investment and with a larger number of jobs."
Tri-County Electric Cooperative, through its land-holding entity, TriCo Development LLC, purchased the property in March 2018 for about $5.5 million. The property was purchased from Bert and Thomas Gue of B&T Limited Partnership as well as the Gressette Family Partnership.
South Carolina Power Team, the economic development organization serving the state’s 20 electric cooperatives, also helped fund the purchase of the property, providing a 1-to-1 match.
The property has long been on the radar for economic development officials.
While Tri-County has helped with the development of many area industrial parks, including the John Matthews Industrial Park at U.S. 301 and U.S. 176, the Jafza Magna Park in Santee and the Calhoun County Industrial Park off Interstate 26, this is the first property the utility has purchased for its own industrial park.
Orangeburg County has 14 industrial sites and eight industrial parks listed on the Orangeburg County Development Commission website. The parks range from 24 acres to 1,324 acres, each with various amenities.
Calhoun County has five industrial sites and one industrial park, according to the Central South Carolina Alliance website.