Economic development begins with businesses serving as envoys for their communities, Summerville Mayor Wiley Johnson told a group of business leaders this morning.
“You guys probably know about economic development before we find out at city hall,” Johnson said. “The developers, the investors, the Realtors, you are the ambassadors for the area.”
Berkeley County Supervisor Bill Peagler (left) and Summerville Mayor Wiley Johnson gave an update on economic development in Berkeley County and parts of Summerville.
Johnson and Berkeley County Supervisor Bill Peagler gave updates on economic development projects and improvement plans for Berkeley County and parts of Summerville during a meeting of the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce’s North Summerville Area Business Council.
Johnson said several economic development projects in and around Summerville are on the cusp of being finalized, but he said he couldn’t give specific details. He said that particular attention is going into the Oakbrook area in the southwest part of Summerville and that he hopes to get Phase 3 of the Berlin G. Myers Parkway under bid next year to help alleviate traffic issues.
Summerville is undergoing a retail and construction boom with several infill and new construction projects happening across the town. The retail redevelopment at the corner of U.S. Highway 78 and Berlin G. Myers Parkway, anchored by Palmetto State Armory, opens this week.
The Dorchester hotel project, which began under former Mayor Bill Collins, appears to be permanently on hold, Johnson said. He said he couldn’t say much, for legal reasons, but added he’s doubtful the hotel and convention complex will be built under the current contract.
Peagler said that Berkeley County’s success in bringing in $1.1 billion in investment and more than 4,100 jobs in 18 months came about by many people doing a lot of things and that Berkeley County was particularly inviting to business. He attributed the economic development successes to the county’s efforts to spread opportunity throughout the county.
“We didn’t do it in just one place,” Peagler said. “We didn’t do it in Summerville. We didn’t do it on I-26. We didn’t do it on Daniel Island. We did it from Daniel Island to St. Stephen, from Moncks Corner to Summerville.”
He said the latest and largest announcement, of Volvo Cars’ new facility coming to Berkeley County, is expected to have a $4.2 billion impact on the region’s economy each year.
Peagler also pointed to several initiatives that exist to help businesses grow within the county. He said as mayor of Moncks Corner he learned the value of streamlining public services by allowing people to get answers in one place. He’s taken that approach to Berkeley County with a Joint Plan Review process to give businesses a one-stop shop for economic and project development.
“One of the things that was most important to me was to view our taxpayers as customers because I believe in customer service,” Peagler said. “We need to focus on ways we can serve our customers better.”
Berkeley County also has launched an online economic development portal, Berkeley Means Business, that includes information about target industries, quality of life, site selection and incentives, along with a place for employers to connect with job seekers.