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Beating the drum for more jobs


January 29, 2015   By Kevin F. Langston in Economic Development

Santee Cooper has always considered economic development a critical component of our mission to be the state's leading resource for improving the quality of life for the people of South Carolina. Looking back on 2014, it was another banner year for these efforts.

We loaned $25.8 million to help advance economic development projects throughout the state as part of a new loan initiative we launched in 2012 to help build facilities and other commerce infrastructure to attract industry and jobs. Our board of directors also approved two site-readiness grant pools totaling $42.5 million to further help industry recruitment endeavors.

Specifically, the South Carolina Power Team Site Readiness Fund will award grants totaling up to $6 million a year for high-value projects in areas served by the state's electric cooperatives. Conjunctively, the new $2.5 million a year Santee Cooper Municipal Site Readiness Fund will offer grants for high-value projects in municipalities that we serve as wholesale customers. Both funds are available for five years.

Our board has also approved a new economic development rate, which could lower power bills by as much as 30 percent initially for new or expanding industries with the required minimum of 2 megawatts of new electric load in addition to job and capital-investment requirements.

Since launching the economic development loan initiative, Santee Cooper has helped fund $48 million worth of projects in more than 20 South Carolina counties and cities — all of which will be served by electric cooperatives or Santee Cooper municipal customers.

Since Santee Cooper and the state's electric cooperatives formed the South Carolina Power Team in 1988, there have been 62,926 new jobs announced for 662 major expansions and new facilities served by Santee Cooper and the cooperatives. This amounts to a capital investment of approximately $11 billion by these industries.

With these new economic development initiatives, we intend to build on this strong foundation.

[Photo – Marc Tye, Santee Cooper senior vice president of customer service, speaks at an October 2014 ribbon-cutting ceremony for Startek's new support center in Myrtle Beach.]