Santee Cooper’s board of directors signed off on two economic development measures Friday.

The board approved an expansion of the utility’s economic development rate for new industry, adding a year to the program and increasing the discount.

Separately, the board approved a loan for a commercial shell building anticipated to be a catalyst for commercial development in Blythewood near Columbia.

The economic development rate, as approved by the board in January 2012, offered an initial discount of 45 percent off the demand charge in the “firm” industrial rate to a new or expanding industry, and that discount tapers gradually over four years. The discounted rate was offered to new or expanded businesses through December 2014.

The action by the board Friday increases the initial discount to 55 percent, extends the taper period to five years and extends the rate offer through December 2015.

While the new or expanded businesses must meet minimum employment and capital investment requirements to qualify for the rate, the economic development rate will benefit all customer classes by attracting new load on the system and encouraging the expansion of existing industries.

“South Carolina’s economy continues to be slow to rebound from the last recession, and Santee Cooper is committed to doing all we can to attract new industry and jobs to this state and to encourage existing industry to expand here,” said Lonnie Carter, Santee Cooper president and CEO. “We are also offering this discount through the state’s electric cooperatives and our municipal customers, which extends its reach to attract new jobs and industry to all 46 counties of the state.”

In the Blythewood matter, the board approved a $900,000 loan to the town to help build a 4,800-square-foot shell building in the Doko Meadows Business Park. The building will serve as an incubator for 325 acres of commercial property surrounding the park, helping draw new commercial industry and jobs to the area.

The total project cost is $1.6 million, with Fairfield Electric Cooperative, which serves the property, contributing $460,000 in utility tax credits and the town contributing $260,000.