The South Carolina House of Representatives now has a bill which would create new incentives for businesses moving to some of the state’s poorest economic areas.
Senators last week approved a proposal to create a “Port Enhancement Zone” in the lower Midlands. Companies inside the zone that have at least 50 employees and ship through the Port of Charleston would get a moratorium on state corporate income taxes and insurance premium taxes for ten years. Those exemptions are currently offered in state law to businesses with more than 100 employees. Businesses in those zones would also be able to claim a $1,000 job tax credit for new jobs created in the region.
“A guiding principle in this bill is to locate some job opportunities in some of these underperforming counties in high-poverty, underperforming areas,” the bill’s sponsor State Sen. John Matthews said on the Senate floor last week.
The bill defines the zone was being within 60 miles of the Charleston port, less than 23 miles from a junction of two interstates and with at least 18 percent of household incomes below $15,000 annually. The only intersection in the state that matches all three is the I-26/I-95 intersection near Bowman. That criteria would include Berkeley, Clarendon, Colleton, Dorchester and Orangeburg counties.
The Orangeburg Times & Democrat reports at least three industrial parks in Orangeburg County would be located inside the zone.
Matthews’ bill would also increase the maximum amount of tax credits allowed for companies with at least 50 employees that made a $20 million investment in the zone and ship at least 5,000 containers through its facility each year. The limit for those credits would rise to $9 million from $8 million each year for those qualifying companies that use Charleston’s port.
The measure passed the Senate last week with only one senator voting “no” (State Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson). Bryant has said he opposes using taxpayer credits as incentives for economic expansion.