Calhoun County has received a new state designation that will allow it to offer companies more money for every new job brought to the county.

The county has been moved from a Tier 2 to Tier 3 designation by the state Department of Revenue, County Administrator John McLauchlin told County Council at the Dec. 11 council meeting.

This will allow the county to give $20,250 in jobs tax credits per job created to new employers in the county, compared to the $2,750 allowed in the county’s previous tier.

“That’s a huge jump between those classes, those tiers,” McLauchlin said.

McLauchlin said this will encourage job creation in the county by giving more money back to employers.

A county’s tier is based its per-capita income and unemployment rate, McLauchlin said. Calhoun was a Tier 2 county for the past three years, which McLauchlin “never personally agreed with.”

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The tiers designate how much a county can give employers in job-tax credits and fee in lieu of property taxes agreements, as well as if a county qualifies for a tax moratorium, he said.

All 46 counties in the state are placed in one of four tiers, with larger and more developed counties being placed in Tier 1 and the least developed counties in Tier 4.

Calhoun joins Clarendon, Colleton and Sumter counties in Tier 3, whereas the county was formerly grouped with counties like Florence, Georgetown and Spartanburg, according to documents from the state commerce department.

The county’s new designation was approved by the state in the first week of December, McLauchlin said.

In other business:

• Council recognized members of two county youth soccer teams and their coaches for participating in the state tournament.

Calhoun County Youth Sports Soccer 10U and 12U Teams traveled to Clemson for the 2023 South Carolina Athletic Programs State Soccer Tournament on Dec. 2, Calhoun County Recreation Director Zachary Tarrant said.

Team members were joined by their families and coaches at the meeting to take a group photo in the council chambers and be recognized.

Though the teams ultimately came up short in the tournament, it was still a great experience for the players, Tarrant said.

This was the first time the county’s 12U, or 12 and under, team has made it to the state tournament, Tarrant said. The 10U team also played in the tournament last year, finishing fourth.

Tarrant and coaches Randy Hughes and Ceser Tamayo said the teams were excited to use the new facilities at the county’s sport complex, which opened in September.

“That’s the other thing, we wanted to bring these kids up here to show you guys the commitment you made for the sports complex, because these are the kids here that will benefit from it over anybody else,” Tarrant said.

• Council approved a resolution consolidating the start dates for two adjacent solar projects in the county.

The two projects are a 66-megawatt solar power facility and added battery storage facility from Houston, Texas-based LoneStar Solar Services LLC, county Human Resource Director and Economic Development Assistant Brandy Roberson said.

The project will take up 676 acres at Maybrick Creek Road and Lone Star Road in Calhoun County, Roberson said.

LoneStar’s total investment in the projects is over $166 million, Roberson said.

The project was originally approved in late 2022, McLauchlin said. It is now awaiting DHEC approval. The project start date was not confirmed, Roberson said.

Council member Richard Carson recused himself from the vote. Carson is one of the owners of the property the projects will be built on, McLauchlin said. Carson signed the lease before taking office.

The approval comes after the county’s moratorium on new solar projects ended on Dec. 4 and new solar zoning ordinances were finalized on Oct. 9.

The county hasn’t seen any change in the amount of interest from solar developers since the new rules were approved, McLauchlin said.

• Council gave final approval to a change in the county’s definition of what constitutes a public nuisance at the Nov. 27 meeting. The change was made to its building and public nuisance codes.

The new definition allows the county to address abandoned properties, illegal businesses and noise complaints and provides an avenue for the county administrator or sheriff to seek the condemnation or closure of a business by proving a case of public nuisance before a county magistrate.

The new policy has roots in the response to Club Rolex, a business on Three Bridges Road that was shut down by an emergency council ordinance in June 2022.

The sheriff or other county official has to appear before a judge before a business is temporarily or permanently shut down, Deputy County Administrator Richard Hall said.

“The sheriff, administration can’t just go shut a business down,” Hall said. “You have to have your due process. You go see the magistrate, a lot like getting a warrant. You can go and make your case and the magistrate has to issue an order to shut the business or demand that something be done.”

• Council gave final approval to the addition of a property maintenance code to the county’s building code. The code will aim to better regulate properties and keep them clean.

• Council gave final approval to a proposal to transfer the operations of its Sandy Run Class 2 landfill to Access Materials LLC, a private company.

The county has been looking for someone to take over the landfill for three years because of rising equipment and operation costs. The landfill will only accept construction and demolition waste.

The county will be allowed to dump a certain amount of waste for free, with a reduced rate for more. The agreement will only apply to county governmental agencies and not private citizens.

The terms of the agreement between the county and Access Materials stipulates that if the new owner decides to stop operating the landfill, Calhoun County will continue to have access to it.

• Council voted to receive a $33,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for equipment for a generator for the Creston EMS and Fire Station.

The grant will cover 15% of the $223,000 total equipment cost, with the county covering the remaining $189,000, Nickie Toomes of the USDA said.

• Council voted to allow Red Rock Developments to build an interior road at the Sandy Run Industrial Park. The county will eventually take ownership of the road.

Red Rock, which has been the master developer of the industrial park, will pay $1.7 million to build the road, McLauchlin said. The county will use 30% of the tax revenue from the buildings on the road to pay the road’s construction cost for five years, he said.

After the road is paid off, the county will keep 100% of the annual taxes.

The new road, to be named Integrity Way, will provide access to a $50 million speculative building that is being leased, as well as lots for future buildings, he said.

Red Rock will eventually transfer maintenance of the road to the county, McLauchlin said.

• Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College President Dr. Walt Tobin appeared before council to share updates on the college’s programs and facility upgrades.

Tobin touted the college’s new Employability Skills Course, which teaches communication, conflict resolution, resume and cover letter skills.

The course is offered to Calhoun and Orangeburg county residents free of charge and targets both adults already in the workforce hoping to advance and high school students, Tobin said.

“It is really an attempt on the part of the college to do some common good as a way to help prepare folks into the world of work,” he said.

The college had a trial run of the course in the fall with a full rollout scheduled for Jan. 16. Those who complete the course will be able to take the ACT WorkKeys exam for free through the college.

Tobin told council the college’s new seven-week term calendar is leading to students having higher grades and taking more courses.

Overall enrollment is up and the college is hoping to continue to offer free tuition to public high school graduates in Calhoun and Orangeburg counties, he said.

The college’s $2 million renovation to its machine technology lab is scheduled to be complete in fall 2024 or January 2025, Tobin said. The college hopes to order the $1.5 million in new equipment it will be stocked with over the summer, he said.

OCtech will also be renovating the cafe in the lobby of Building S to create a student common area with charging stations and small meeting spaces, Tobin said.

“As a community college, you think that students come to campus to take the classes that they need and then they either go back home or go to work, take care of their families,” he said. “Well, the research is pretty clear about the fact that the more time students spend on campus, the more likely they are to be successful in their classes and persist to graduation.”

The college is planning to ask the state for $5 million to renovate Building K, which is the former nursing building, during next year’s legislative session. The Medical University of South Carolina has expressed some interest in supporting the renovations and future programs for the building, he said.

OCtech is also looking for the rest of the $16-17 million it needs for a new advanced manufacturing building, Tobin said. The state has already provided $8 million for the project, and the college hopes to receive the balance of the project cost next year.

• Council gave final approval to adding the holidays of Juneteenth on June 19 and Columbus Day, to be celebrated on the second Monday of October, on the county calendar.

• Council voted to approve its 2024 meeting calendar at the Dec. 11 council meeting. The first meeting of the new year will be held on Jan. 8, 2024.

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5553. Follow on Twitter: @bozardcaleb.

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