LATTA, SC (WMBF) - Dillon County has purchased land for a new industrial park with hopes that it will attract new businesses and create jobs.
The land is a wedge-shaped plot immediately east of the intersection of SC Highway 917 and SC Highway 38. The 33-acre site is west of Latta, about a mile from Interstate 95.
Dillon County Economic Development Director Dave Bailey said half of the money for the land came from the county's capital sales tax, which is collected specifically for such projects. The other half of the money came from the North Eastern Strategic Alliance (NESA), an economic development organization for northeastern South Carolina.
The next step in the process of creating the new industrial park is getting it certified, a step that involves a review by an engineer so the site is ready for development.
Once the new park is certified, Dillon County will have an industrial park near both of its intersections with Interstate 95.
"It became important that we locate something down by the other intersection that we have at 95," Bailey explained. "We thought this smaller 33 acre park would be ideal."
Bailey said economic development efforts are particularly important in Dillon County where the unemployment rate was 17.5% in January.
"The kids get out of school here. They go off to college. There's no reason for them to come back," Bailey said. "So what we need are good jobs here where they have a reason to come back."
The new industrial park could hold four to five new businesses. Each of them could employ about 50 to 100 workers. Possibilities like that are encouraging to folks such as Judy Fore of Dillon.
"Anything that generates jobs, I'm all for it because people want to work, generally want to work, but people get discouraged when there's nowhere to work," Fore said. "They want to work, and people get discouraged. Some of my family members, they don't even want to stay in this area because it's not productive living. People got to live."
Currently, Dillon is part of a partnership at the Tri-County Gateway Industrial Park. That park is designed for medium to large manufacturers.
Adjacent to that park is Dillon County's "Megasite" industrial park. That park is designed for a very large manufacturer, and the site is currently in the certification process.
Bailey admitted only one business is located at the Gateway park. He said the slumping economy has kept many businesses from showing interest in locating or expanding in Dillon County.
Nonetheless, he said the county Economic Development Board and County Council decided to move forward with purchasing the 33 acres because it was available for a good price. He also said the small industrial park will be more attractive to smaller businesses.
"We want to be ready for whatever business comes down the pipe," Bailey said.
With the three parks, Bailey said, Dillon County will be able to accommodate businesses of various sizes with various budgets for land.