Company spurns Dorchester

Ken Seeger

An unidentified manufacturer that was proposing to bring about 350 jobs to the Ridgeville area has notified Dorchester County that Savannah has cut it a better deal.

The company, an aircraft-parts maker that went by the code name "Project Part," had been looking at a site near U.S. Highway 78 and S.C. Highway 27 that MeadWestvaco Corp. plans to convert into a business park.

Ken Seeger, president of MeadWestvaco's development division, said the deal is now off.

"We worked with Dorchester County and they put together what we all thought was a very aggressive package," he said Thursday, referring to incentive deals designed to lure businesses and create jobs. "But in the final analysis, Savannah just came up with more than Dorchester Country could afford."

The state Commerce Department also was involved in the recruiting of the manufacturer.

While the company preferred the Ridgeville site for "technical reasons," officials in the Peach State increased the stakes, Seeger said.

"The state of Georgia is aggressive with their incentives, with property-tax abatements and free land in many cases," he said.

Officials at the Savannah Economic Development Authority could not be reached Thursday for comment.

Seeger declined to identify the company by name, saying only that it makes aircraft parts. It needed to be close to a seaport to bring in materials and to "ship out large components."

Jon Baggett, director of economic development for Dorchester County, could not be reached Thursday for comment.

As previously reported, County Council recently approved $1.2 million in incentives that would have helped pay to run water and sewer lines to the site if Project Part had picked it for the plant.

Seeger said several other prospects have looked at the Ridgeville property, including a local business that's still considering a move there. The site is one of three industrial park sites in the county that MeadWestvaco is planning to build on as it re-enters the residential and commercial development business.

"We try to work closely with Dorchester County to help with its economic development efforts because we think that job creation is needed to create a sustainable balance," Seeger said.

Dorchester County's unemployment rate was 10.9 percent in June.

Reach John McDermott at 937-5572 or jmcdermott@postandcourier.com.