The multimillion-dollar plan of MeadWestvaco Corp. and the Rockefeller Group to build a 400-acre industrial park near Jedburg starts with filling in potholes on Dropoff Drive.
Officials from both groups gathered Thursday to celebrate the start of improvements to the road that will lead up to the development's first warehouse building. Workers also will prepare the site of the future building. Construction will start once a company agrees to locate in the park.
Despite falling port volume and a global recession that has made corporations hesitant to pursue new ventures, officials decided to start the industrial park's sitework because it could help attract a tenant, explained Ed Guiltinan, Rockefeller vice president and regional director.
"You need to understand that the economy is bad, but there still are companies out there that need distribution space," he said. "It's maybe harder than it was, but there still is activity that we feel justifies this project."
Already, the site is being eyed by a large corporation that wants to consolidate its scattered operations into one large site, said Ken Seeger, president of MeadWestvaco's community development and land management group. The company also is looking at sites in Norfolk, Wilmington and Savannah.
"One of the big concerns on our part is how quickly we can move if they make a decision," Seeger said.
Guiltinan estimates that it will take six months to complete the industrial building's construction.
The joint venture project is one of several industrial parks that have been proposed to accommodate the port's planned expansion in North Charleston. Trammel Crow Co., for example, is working on the first phase of its 315-acre Omni Commerce Park, and Ross Perot Jr.'s Hillwood Investment Properties has announced plans for its 750-acre Charleston Trade Center.