County, BREC partner for development

PICKENS — Pickens County and Blue Ridge Electric Co-op have partnered to enhance development in the Pickens County Commerce Park.

Pickens County Council chair Jennifer H. Willis was presented with a $300,000 check on Nov. 1 at the Alliance Pickens office.

The money comes from a utility tax credit fund that serves as an offset for taxes Blue Ridge Electric Co-op would have to pay to the state.

In 1996, the South Carolina General Assembly passed the Rural Development Act. The legislation empowered each of the state’s tax-paying utilities to defer a portion of their yearly license-tax obligation to support local job-creating projects. Normally, the funds would go directly to the Department of Revenue in Columbia. In this instance, the RDA dollars donated by Blue Ridge will help to underwrite a sewer-line extension in the Pickens County Commerce Park that will allow for more industrial development. The expenditure of these deferred taxes will have no impact on the electric rates paid by the cooperative’s members.

“When (Alliance Pickens director) Ray Farley approached us with the idea of using these tax dollars for this project, we were excited to keep the money local and see it used in a way that benefits our service area,” said Zach Hinton, Blue Ridge’s manager of government and community relations. “We are very pleased about the next round of economic development announcements in the commerce park.”

Willis said Pickens County and Alliance Pickens are grateful for the support of Blue Ridge Electric in economic development activities.

“Their current utility tax credit contribution of $300,000 is a tremendous asset in our newest announcements at the commerce park,” she said. “Blue Ridge has been a great partner with these credits in the development of the Pickens County Commerce Park, which ultimately gives our citizens great jobs, improves our communities, and creates opportunities for each and every one of us. It is my honor to accept this check on behalf of all the citizens of Pickens County.”