Guest Opinion: Federal BUILD grant would bolster trails, economic development

Published by the Spartanburg Herald Journal; to view the full article, click here

A. Manning Lynch; Guest Column

By any objective measure, Spartanburg County has been not only one of South Carolina’s, but one of the Southeast’s, biggest economic development success stories this century. Number of new manufacturing jobs, number of total new jobs, amount of total new investment, amount of international investment, amount of exports — we have ranked either at or near the top in all those and other categories for years.

Our numbers, the corporations who call Spartanburg home, and our growth are the envy of many communities, including many with larger populations and tax bases. We have been able to punch above our weight for many reasons: terrific public schools and institutions of higher learning, a low cost of living combined with an exceptional quality of life, and a relentless focus on economic development and job creation being chief among them.

Central to that focus has always been a creative and innovative approach to economic recruitment and job creation. Sure, tax incentives are important — and Spartanburg County has effectively utilized local incentives to compete with other states and jurisdictions and ultimately attract companies that have created thousands of new jobs and generated millions of dollars in local economic activity and tax revenue — revenue that is then used to invest in essential services while allowing us to hold the line on property taxes you and your family pay.

Many communities across the country over the past several years have been awarded BUILD grants by focusing on traditional projects that widen highways or rebuild bridges in order to build carrying capacity. Our proposed project would do that, as well, but we view our project as an important and creative way to further bolster our economic development efforts. Our project is simultaneously a transportation, economic development, and quality of life project that will equally benefit current and future private and corporate citizens. Indeed, it will be an important new tool we will use in our ongoing and never ending efforts to recruit new businesses, encourage existing businesses to expand, create new jobs, and raise local incomes.

You can learn more about our proposed project at www.active-living.org/BUILD — there, you will find details, maps, and renderings.

I encourage you to support our effort to land these significant resources and put them to work creating a healthier, more attractive and more prosperous Spartanburg.

A. Manning Lynch is chairman of the Spartanburg County Council.