Investments will deliver positive impacts along I-95 corridor

Recent investment and development projects along the I-95 corridor in Jasper, Colleton and Hampton counties will soon deliver positive impacts to all seven counties, including Beaufort, in the SouthernCarolina Alliance region.

With the September announcement that Boeing will move all 787 Dreamliner production to Charleston, our region is seeing even more interest from aerospace suppliers not only located in the Washington state area, but from around the world. 

The coronavirus pandemic also brought concerns in all industry sectors of manufacturing, food processing and distribution to secure the supply chain within the United States.  Many of the international companies that we are meeting with now are moving quickly to secure locations in the U.S. and ramp up their manufacturing or processing.

With these developments in play, it is more important than ever that we develop well planned, buffered industrial parks to handle the growth in manufacturing and distribution.  That’s why the SouthernCarolina Alliance has partnered with our counties and our allies in the private sector to create marketable properties that are shovel ready.

In Jasper County, SCA has worked with developers at Riverport Commerce Park where more than 4 million square feet of distribution will be built to accommodate growth at the ports and the new Exit 3 on I-95 in Hardeeville. 

Other properties are also in development along I-95 and U.S. 17, including the Sherwood Industrial Tract, which is on the market and ready for industry.  With 1,437 acres and Class I rail, this mega-site has already been vetted and is perfect for a large manufacturing campus.

In September, one of the largest Opportunity Zone announcements in the country was made along I-95 at Exit 38 in Hampton County, by an innovative agribusiness project, the Agriculture Technology Campus.

A $314 million investment, the project will encompass 1,000 acres and provide more than 1,500 jobs at the Southern Carolina Industrial Campus in state-of-the-art controlled environment agriculture facilities where the companies will grow pesticide-free tomatoes, leafy greens, berries and other produce.  The ATC will also construct a 150,000-square-foot co-packing facility on the site.

This announcement follows on the heels of Yield Scientific, LLC, which announced a $30 million investment and 107 jobs in April at the same industrial park, taking advantage of the Opportunity Zone incentives.

Just 20 minutes north on I-95 at Exit 57 in Colleton County is the Colleton Mega-Site, a 1,481-acre industrial site, and a few minutes farther north, at Exit 62, are two additional industrial parks, the Colleton County Commerce Center and the Colleton Industrial Campus.

Crescent Dairy and Beverage located to the CCCC in 2012, where it invested $30 million and created 60 jobs.  The county has constructed a second 100,000-square-foot, expandable industrial building next door to the Crescent facility.  Both parks have infrastructure in place and are ready for occupants.

These investments along I-95 will bring new opportunities throughout the region in direct, indirect and induced jobs. The new projects bring additional business to our existing industries, service providers and retailers, but more importantly, they bring great paying jobs for our people, many of whom are underemployed and seeking better opportunities.

The challenge to our region is to have product in place, and we are accomplishing this with our planning and investment in industrial parks and buildings.  Another challenge will be to have our workforce ready. Working with our allies in technical training and higher education, our residents can and will be able to fill these good jobs that come with growth.

Danny Black is president and CEO of SouthernCarolina Alliance.