Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Plans for Jafza training facility move forward

    There were no comments during a public hearing Monday on an ordinance authorizing a deed-lease agreement between the county and Jafza South Carolina, LLC. Orangeburg County Administrator Bill Clark said second reading will take during a special called council meeting, which could be held Aug. 23.Construction of a training building near Interstate 95 is one step closer to fruition thanks to agreements between Orangeburg County and several entities.

Stephen McCrae Jr., Jafza's attorney, said the company will deed five acres to the county for the development of the structure.

"At the same time, the county will lease that land back to Jafza with the responsibility on our part to construct a facility called The Training Center," McCrae said. "The funding for the construction will be through Tri-County Electric Cooperative. It has some funds from Rural Economic Development Land Grant and other funding.

"The construction must be completed by January 1 because we already have one tenant identified. This is a wonderful opportunity, not only for Jafza but for the county, which brought it to us."

McCrae said the tenant is an organization involved in workforce training. Jafza will have the sole responsibility for the building, including finding tenants and paying taxes.

Clark said Tri-County is able to obtain almost $1 million through REDLG, which it will make available to the county at no interest for ten years under a separate agreement. The agreement also allows for the deferral of payments for the first two years.

"These are extraordinary, beneficial terms that cannot be touched in the private sector," Clark said. Tri-County, "will have a separate agreement with Jafza to construct the building, which will make lease payments sufficient to cover the debt service on the loan.

"It's a win-win for all parties."

McCrae said the final terms of the agreement, such as the construction budget, still need to be ironed out. He promised the documentation, once completed, will be made available for public inspection before second reading next week.

"This is virtually risk-free for the county," McCrae said. "Jafza has land that will be made available to the county if there is a default on the lease."

Also during its Monday meeting, council agreed to enter an intergovernmental loan agreement with Santee Cooper for up to $4 million for ten years. Clark said the money would likely be used for the development of a regional wastewater facility in eastern Orangeburg County.

"We have a wastewater facility under permitting review right now that should become operational in the next two, three years," Clark said. "If we need funding assistance to proceed with the development of either the water or the wastewater utility systems in that area, Santee Cooper has just made themselves available as a partner, if needed."

If the county were to use any of the Santee Cooper funding, "payment would not occur until either six months after the facility was constructed and permitted to operate, or two years from the time the funds were drawn down," Clark said. "Principal payment could be deferred to the end or be prepaid at any other negotiated period."

Santee Cooper spokesman Mollie Gore said the agreement must win approval of that utility's board of directors next week before it becomes final.

"This arrangement would be similar in structure to an agreement Santee Cooper had with Berkeley County in order to help attract development," Gore said.

In other action council:

* Unanimously gave final approval to a new county waste tire policy. Clark said accepting the policy keeps the county eligible for waste tire funding from the state.

* Awarded South Carolina State University Head Football Coach Emeritus Willie Jeffries a resolution of honor in recognition of his accomplishments in the field of athletics and role in community service to Orangeburg County. Jeffries was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame July 17.

* Entered executive session to discuss economic development, including the terms of the Jafza agreement.

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5540.

Site sought for new Army Reserve Center

It looks like things are starting to heat up. I hear that Jafza is going to have a ground braking in October. Ron

By GENE ZALESKI, T&D Staff Writer | Posted: Friday, August 13, 2010 4:18 am | (2) Comments
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The U.S. Army provided this sketch of a design for an Army Reserve Center, indicating the new $11.6 million center planned for the area would be similar.

The U.S. Army wants to purchase land within a 50-mile radius of the Orangeburg area for the construction of an Army Reserve Center.
Public Affairs Specialist Ken Beyer says leads are currently being sought for available land.
"We are only ... in the ‘looking for property' stage so there are no properties under consideration yet," Beyer said.
The Army hopes to purchase a 15-acre tract of land that has no environmental problems, is in close proximity to utilities, has good vehicle access and visibility, is suitable for construction of the center and is within budget.
The project will include a 34,000-square-foot training building, a 5,000-square-foot maintenance shop, a 2,000-square-foot unheated storage building and a 5,800-square-yard parking area.
Beyer said the time-frame is uncertain for construction of the facility but the $11.6 million project will be funded in the 2012 fiscal year budget.
The work will include land clearing, paving, fencing, site improvements and utility extensions.
"The new facility will be occupied by the eight Army Reserve units currently occupying the existing Orangeburg Memorial United States Army Reserve Center," Beyer said. The existing center is located on John C. Calhoun Drive across from Superior Honda in Orangeburg.
He said the new center will provide administrative, assembly, library, learning center, vault, weapons simulator and physical fitness space for the reserve units. The maintenance shop will provide work bays and administrative support.
Beyer hesitated to place an economic impact assessment on what the reserve center could mean from a dollar or jobs standpoint. However, he said soldiers will use local colleges and universities and spend locally. In addition, he said local catering businesses will provide meals for the soldiers, and local contractors will benefit from building maintenance projects.
Once the new center is built and occupied, the old Reserve Center will be considered "excess property" and "more than likely returned to the city," Beyer said. Options could be to convert the building into a homeless shelter, sell it or transfer it for use as a public facility, he said.
Gregg Robinson, Orangeburg County Development Commission executive director, says the county has been in contact with the U.S. Army for the past 30 days and has responded to the Army's request for a proposal.
"We have several properties that fit the criteria of the Army," Robinson said. "We would obviously like to place this facility in Orangeburg County. Folks are interested in the Orangeburg area due to our location, and the Global Logistics Triangle works for manufacturing and for the military. Orangeburg County is important logistically with the connectivity (it) offers."
In addition, the area is ideal because of its restaurants and the interstate, he said.
Robinson said the military sector fits in well with the county's future development plans.
"The Army is a very important part of Orangeburg County," he said, noting that supporting and training the Reservists to protect the nation's interests is very important.
"The beauty of having a facility of that quality in our community is the derived externalities that (will come) from other military investments."
More restaurants and service stations could be a part of the spin-off, Robinson said.
"We continue to work with a number of different types of projects," he said. "We are trying to make sure we have a competitive environment of growth for the county."
Contact the writer: or 803-533-5551.
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