County holds ribbon cutting for new Chapin Business & Technology Park at Brighton
Chapin, SC (Paul Kirby) – Leaders from across Lexington County and the state gathered today just off Columbia Avenue in Chapin to formally cut the ribbon on their newest area for focused economic development, the Chapin Business & Technology Park at Brighton. This is the third park specifically developed by Lexington County for economic development. The other two include the Saxe Gotha park in the Cayce area and the Batesburg-Leesville business park just outside that town in western Lexington County.
The new park in Chapin is different than the other two that already have tenants. This park is specifically designed for businesses that deal in technology, light manufacturing, and other operations that would create more white-collar jobs. Businesses like bank operations and financial processing centers, corporate headquarters, and technology specific businesses like call and tech support centers and advanced manufacturing operations were just a few mentioned during today’s unveiling. The county’s other two parks are more suited for heavy manufacturing and larger distribution businesses like the Amazon Fulfillment Center and Nephron Pharmaceuticals in Saxe Gotha, and Fisher Tank, a company that manufactures steel tanks, in Batesburg-Leesville.
Chapin’s park is unique in other ways as well. It was developed in partnership with the Mungo Company. They owned the land that allowed Lexington County to tie the Chapin park into Columbia Avenue. In the business deal that provided Lexington County the Columbia Avenue access, the county installed the street, lighting, landscaping, and other infrastructure through the heart of the Mungo tract. That land is now available for Mungo to develop into high-end housing and other mixed uses like shopping centers, parks, and restaurants. That could complement the tech park by providing places for employees to live, dine, and play close to work.
Each of the county’s business parks were developed to share the tax revenues they generate with every school district in the county. That means that children that go to school in Lexington School District Four, the district that covers Gaston and Swansea, will receive some of the tax monies generated as businesses begin to fill in the Chapin park. For that reason, the ribbon-cutting was attended by dignitaries from across the county like Dr. Linda Lavender, the superintendent of School District Four and that small district’s board chair Ms. Doris Simmons. The district they represent has very little industry, so they can expect to see an influx of new revenue every time a business chooses to locate in one of the county’s three parks.
This is a unique concept, but one that was well thought out. Parks require infrastructure like government supplied water and sewer. In order to avoid having to build a park in each of the county’s five school districts, county leaders came up with the idea of the revenue sharing. This allowed them to build their business parks where infrastructure was already in place, saving the county millions in developmental costs of having to stretch those services to very rural areas.
Lexington County Council Chairperson Debbie Summers said during the ceremony, “Chapin deserves this.” In referring to the years it took to develop the park to its finished stage Summers said, “It sometimes takes time to do things right.” Other county council members, both past serving and present, were on hand to admire the finished product. For many of them, the park was conceived years ago by council members that no longer are serving. Members like Smokey Davis who was in attendance Monday. He has been retired from the council for a number of years.
Mike Eades, the county director of economic development said that the park was currently divided into 19 parcels, but pointed out that this was not set in stone. Parcels could be combined and there were several that could be put together that would actually allow for a tract of more than 40 acres if needed. The park already has the water, sewer, telecoms, and all other utilities in place so that the tracts are almost shovel ready. Eades also said that shortly after the ceremony a timber contractor would move in and begin thinning the trees on the site so that tracts would be easier to see and market. “With the exception of the final landscaping and some street lights, this is the finished product,” Eades said.
Some of the park’s many attributes include close proximity to I-26, US Hwy. 76 (Chapin Rd.), and US Hwy 176 (Broad River Road). It will also be very close to the new sidewalks and bike trails that are already on the drawing board for Chapin once the roads are widened and the bypass projects begin. Many of the sites will actually be visible from adjacent I-26.
Just before the ribbon was cut, the beautiful fountain that sits at the first roundabout was put on for all who had assembled to see. Water shoots from the top and sides of the sign at the park’s entrance which is located in a small reflecting pool. That was an especially proud moment for Chapin Town Councilman Mike Clonts and his wife Trish. Clonts said their son works for W.P. Law, the company who designed and installed the fountain for the county. Clonts said that their son has worked in every phase of this type of work, from construction to the design of the fountains. You could see the pride in his eyes as the fountain sprayed upwards in beautiful plumes.
The county is marketing the park through various avenues worldwide. There has been no announcement yet regarding any business that has committed to locate in the park. For more information on all Lexington County has to offer, go to there website at http://www.lex-co.sc.gov/Pages/default.aspx.