Increasing UTC funds means good business for City of Greer

Published on Tuesday, July 31, 2012

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Hal Johnson is the president and chief executive officer of the Upstate SC Alliance.

Hal Johnson is the president and chief executive officer of the Upstate SC Alliance.


By Hal Johnson
Op-Ed

Local economic development groups in City of Greer now have more money in the pot to help foster concrete business growth thanks to the recent change in the South Carolina Utility Tax Credit laws. This change in the UTC law, along with the recent SCEDA legislation, and the state reoccurring funds for the Upstate SC Alliance mean great things for the entire state of South Carolina.

Under the amended UTC law, which went into effect in June after being passed by the House and Senate this year, utility companies now have the ability to set aside $400,000 from their taxes that can go directly back to the local counties they serve.

That is an increase of $100,000 for each eligible utility company serving the region, but means a world of difference for the South Carolina economy. This generates economic growth without adding another tax or fee to the everyday South Carolinian.

The utility tax credit funds can be used for any economic development project that serves the public good. That means helping fund new infrastructure, rail line repairs, industrial parks, office parks and spec buildings. It can be used to upgrade county or city-owned buildings that are used to spur economic development. It can be used for grading and land clearing.

Basically, this money will help create jobs and growth on the local level.

This gives us at the Upstate SC Alliance another avenue when it comes to marketing and selling the Upstate region as a premier place to do business. Not only is this money needed to help spur development, it shows a very progressive approach from the Legislature for thinking outside the box when it comes to growing the business climate in South Carolina. It is another tool in the toolbox.

This law is unique – we as a state are giving more control of economic development funds to local leadership. South Carolina is leading the way. This allows City of Greer decision makers to address their most pressing economic development issues, as they know best what their counties need.

The changes to the Utility Tax Law could not have been accomplished without the work of Bill Sponsor Representative Phyllis Henderson and Representative Tommy M. Stringer. Their votes helped tremendously to get this passed. I applaud them for their effort.

This amended law also allows for utilities to have more say and be able to help out the communities they have invested workers and capital in. It allows them to be good stewards of the people. Every county in the Upstate region will benefit from these added funds.

The next steps are up to each county and the utilities to make allotments from this expanded set of funds. Infrastructure improvements can make or break new development. This gives us more opportunity to show the rest of the world that the Upstate and South Carolina mean business.

Hal Johnson is the president and chief executive officer of the Upstate SC Alliance, a non-profit organization made up of a public and private investors aimed at promoting economic growth. Additional information is available through the Alliance’s web site, www.upstateSCalliance.com.

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