Teamwork delivers infrastructure and jobs to Berkeley County
BY PAUL CAMPBELL
and LARRY GROOMS
Good news for Berkeley County: Three recently approved infrastructure projects could produce more than 18,000 jobs.
With our county’s unemployment rate almost twice what it was five years ago, this is very good news indeed.
The infrastructure improvements all support an important goal set by Berkeley County Council and County Supervisor Dan Davis to establish a manufacturing and distribution hub along I-26 in the Jedburg/Sheep Island area.
Accomplishing that goal, which will create thousands of new jobs, required major efforts by both public and private entities. In fact, the vision for the ambitious plans started seven years ago, during the administration of former County Council Supervisor Jim Rozier.
And it would require significant infrastructure improvements: the expansion and improvement of the Jedburg interchange (Exit 194) to make it safer and more efficient for cargo traffic; the construction of the new Sheep Island interchange (Exit 197) and a 12-mile parkway to provide access to this portion of the county; and the widening of I-26 to mile marker 194 to increase traffic capacity.
These improvements will create the necessary road network to unlock this future job center in the Lowcountry. Their approval and the commitment to move forward expeditiously on them is cause for great celebration.
The champion of this much-needed infrastructure is not a single individual or organization, but rather an extraordinary collaboration among public and private entities.
We are very proud to have worked closely with Berkeley County Council and Supervisor Dan Davis, the S.C. Transportation Infrastructure Bank, State Ports Authority CEO Jim Newsome, Hillwood Development, Rockefeller Group, MeadWestvaco, and Gramling Brothers Development throughout the process. It has truly been a team effort.
More than 50 percent of the overall investment is coming from private companies in the form of impact fees, special assessments, and construction of the new parkway that will provide direct access from I-26 to Highway 176 and U.S. 17A through Cane Bay and neighboring communities.
The remaining investment will come from state and local governments.
Hopefully, this successful partnership can become a model for addressing other urgent needs in our region.
Work is under way. The first phase of the Jedburg interchange improvements has been completed, and the new Sheep Island interchange and parkway are scheduled to be completed in 2015. That work has already resulted in TBC Corp. building a new 1.1 million square-foot distribution center in the Rockefeller Group/MWV Foreign Trade Zone.
Collaboration brought us Boeing, and the 6,000 jobs already there. And now collaboration has brought us the launch of these infrastructure improvements that can mean more than 18,000 jobs. All of us in Berkeley County owe a big debt of gratitude to the public and private individuals and institutions that worked collaboratively on behalf of these improvements and the jobs they will create.
Paul Campbell and Larry Grooms, both Republicans, represent Berkeley County in the S.C. Senate.