By Michaele Duke
Williamsburg County Council approved third and final reading of an ordinance that brings to fruition a yearlong endeavor. Valley Forge Flag Company (and its subsidiaries Lane Manufacturing, LLC and Southern Impressions, LLC) will receive certain special source revenue credits against Fee in Lieu of ad valorem tax payments. Council unanimously passed Ordinance 2014-004 after an August 19, public hearing.
Fee in Lieu of Taxes and Special Source Revenue Bond programs help in reducing the burden of property taxes for qualifying businesses. Qualifying companies can negotiate with a county to reduce the rate at which real and personal property will be assessed over a 20-year period for ad valorem taxation purposes.
Of those is Valley Forge Flag Company, which produces flags made entirely of domestic materials in US facilities with US labor.
Based in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, the company expanded its operations in Williamsburg County in December 2013. The manufacturer is expected to invest $2.5 million and create 100 jobs while preserving nearly 200 existing jobs in the state. The company, which is located in the former Milliken building in Kingstree, is currently hiring.
Scott Liberman, CEO of Valley Forge Flag Company attended the council meeting. “We have been moving forward with our project as many of you probably have known,” said Liberman who has also made significant investments in the Lane facility. “We’re in the building, we’re operating, and we’re hiring. And we’re very grateful for all the help with the county and the state has done for us,” said Liberman. “It’s going to help us to continue to expand.” Tushar V. Chikhliker of Nexsen/Pruet Law Firm agreed with Liberman. “Certainly they are very, very appreciative of the incentives that have been provided,” said Chikhliker. “It’s just one piece of a somewhat complicated deal that’s been structured and the county’s done an admirable job in putting those pieces together.” Chikhliker said the credit is based upon on new hires rather than transfers of employees. “We can’t obviously discriminate against anybody that comes in looking for a job.” He added that the company will generate revenue for the county. “This is not by any stretch a complete abatement of taxes,” said Chikhliker. “There is still going to be tax revenue coming in off the new investment for the county’s school district.” Chikhliker said South Carolina manufacturers are among the highest taxed in the country. “The unfortunate reality is that manufacturers in South Carolina have, if not the highest, among the highest tax rates of any state in the entire US. So the only way that counties can become competitive are to offer incentives such as these and that just gets them in the ballpark of states like North Carolina and Georgia.” The manufacturer is also expected to move approximately $8 million in equipment into the county over the next two to three years.
Valley Forge flags fly over the US Capitol, accompanied our astronauts into space and provides inspiration to our service men and women throughout the world. According to the South Carolina Department of Commerce, since January 2011, South Carolina has recruited more than $10 billion in capital investment and more than 28,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector.
In other business, council approved first reading on two ordinances to allow for funding for different projects. Two separate bonds fall under USDA Rural development guidelines. The $2.5 million in bonds will pay for $1.74 million for a Chavis School project, new fire trucks at $75,000 each, and $216,000 for a new roof for the Alex Chatman Complex, as well as $40,000 for legal and other fees. According to attorney Billy Jenkinson who presented the information to council, the roof of Chavis School, which houses Chavis One Stop is leaking. Construction is expected to begin in October. Funding (between $475,000 to $530,000 depending upon a grant award) will be used for a new building for the Voter Registration Office will be presented at a later time.