Economic growth - past, present and future - on the Cainhoy Peninsula
To keep up with the growth throughout Berkeley County over the past few years, as it is the fastest growing county in South Carolina and the 17th fastest in the nation, the Cainhoy Peninsula is one of the regions that has experienced a serious increase in industrial and residential development.
From 2013 to 2016 alone, four leading companies in the area—Stoba, Mankiewicz Coatings, LLC, Blackbaud and Benefitfocus, Inc.—announced a total of 1596 new jobs coming to the Clements Ferry/Cainhoy and Daniel Island area, explained Hannah Moldenhauer, Berkeley County’s Public Information Officer.
In December 2013, Benefitfocus, Inc., a leading provider of cloud-based benefits software solutions, announced that it would break ground on a building project that will expand the size of its technology campus on Daniel Island from 13 acres to 40 acres, creating 1,200 new, high-tech jobs in the state, continued Moldenhauer.
The following December, Mankiewicz Coatings, LLC, a worldwide leader in the manufacturing of high-quality coating systems for aviation, automotive and general industry markets, announced plans to invest in a $15 to 20 million expansion on a site on the Charleston Regional Parkway off Clements Ferry Road. The expansion was expected to generate 35 new jobs over five years, added Moldenhaur.
Located on Daniel Island, Blackbaud, the leading provider of software and services for the global philanthropic community, announced plans in May 2016 to invest $154 million to expand its world headquarters, she continued. The expected completion date for the first phase of the 360,000-square-foot facility is sometime this year. Once completed, the project is expected to create 300 new jobs over the next five years.
In addition to industrial development, there have also been a number of new retail and food service facilities added in the area, creating a higher quality of life and even more competitive job market, added Moldenhauer.
“Monster Self Storage, Dollar General and Lowco Café immediately come to mind,” said Moldenhauer, of the three new Clements Ferry Road businesses.
With an increase of 29,000 residents in just three years, the existing healthy job market and good services are some of the reasons why so many people are drawn to this area, explained Berkeley County Supervisor Bill Peagler at the Daniel Island Neighborhood Association meeting on Feb. 6.
“Our population growth is the 17th fastest growing county in the nation,” said Peagler. “Why? Because we provide good services for you and we’re doing everything we can to improve those services…Prior to my coming in, the employees hadn’t had a raise in eight years. They had only approved $1 billion in investments in eight years. In three, we are close to $3 billion in investments total. There are 7,000 new jobs. We’re creating opportunity in Berkeley for growth because it’s coming.”
The lowest millage rate in the state, coming in at 28.4, also makes Berkeley County attractive to those seeking a new place to reside, whether they be residents or industry professionals, explained Deputy Supervisor of Finance Tim Callanan at a Cainhoy and Daniel Island Region Public Meeting on Feb. 28 at Philip Simmons High School. The City of Charleston is a close second with a rate of 37.1. With every penny spent in the county going towards reducing property taxes, it is no wonder so many are being pulled to the area.
“What happens is, at the end of the year when you average out all of those credits that you get from the sales tax and how low our millage is to begin with, we’re by far the lowest millage in the state,” said Callanan. “Our raw millage is 50.5, which is still the lowest. When you add in those credits, it brings it down to an effective 28.4.”
While many residents have shown concern about the amount of growth that has happened over the last few years, large amounts of industry recruitment and economic development are vital for the county to be able to maintain this low millage rate, continued Callanan. As stated previously, in the past three years alone the county has invested over $3 billion. Most of those investments, though, have been in industry. This is due to the fact that industries, even medium size, have an assessment ratio that is 50 percent higher than a primary resident and create much more revenue for the county government to utilize.
“[Investment] produces a diversified, resilient and strong tax base,” said Callanan. “If you took the average county house, it’s about $200,000…From that house, after all the credits are issued, it collects $610 in school taxes and $225 in taxes that go towards the county government for our operations. If you actually look at the figure, you say to yourself, how does the county provide those services for that little amount of money? We don’t…A $20 million industry, which is a large industry to bring in but when you compare it to others, it’s actually medium size, brings it to $225,000 in school taxes and $105,000 to the county government. The question is, how many single family homes do I have to build to make up for this one industry I recruited? It’s a shocking number - 462. It’s an entire neighborhood. That one $20 million factory basically produces enough revenue as 462 homes…That’s where we’re generating the short fall of funds.”
While investment in the economy is essential to maintaining the high quality of life existing in the county, it is critical that county officials also invest in infrastructure needs in able to create a balance, explained Chief Executive Officer for the Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce Elaine Morgan. With the current and projected growth of the Clements Ferry Road and Cainhoy area, traffic congestion is a serious concern among all who reside there and it must be addressed, she said.
“Being one of the major roads in Berkeley County, the Berkeley Chamber supported in both referendums for funds to address Clements Ferry Road, knowing this is one of our major growth areas,” said Morgan. “Our businesses and residents depend on safe, reliable roads. Being able to move people and goods paves the way for continued economic growth and good paying jobs, while maintaining our desired quality of life.”