York County’s recruitment of 2 Charlotte firms adds to state’s talent pool

dworthington@heraldonline.comJune 21, 2014 

— York County’s recruitment of two Charlotte companies produced ground-breaking deals for South Carolina, Gov. Nikki Haley says, giving the state a higher presence in the health care consulting and financial markets industries.

The Lash Group announced Monday that it will invest up to $90 million to build its “dream home” headquarters at the Kingsley Park North business park near the intersection of S.C. 160 and Interstate 77. The company will move 1,200 employees from its Charlotte locations and might add another 1,200 jobs over time. Most of the health care jobs would require college degrees, some at the master’s level, company officials said.

LPL Financial Carolinas also announced Monday that it will build in Kingsley Park North, investing at least $150 million for its regional headquarters. The company plans to bring 1,000 jobs from Charlotte and might expand to about 3,000 jobs over time. Higher education and the ability to get financial licenses are needed for some of the LPL jobs, company officials said.

The announcements were the greatest single-day total for job creation in York County, county officials said.

North Carolina economic officials tried to keep the companies in Charlotte. South Carolina’s incentives were mentioned by some North Carolina officials as the difference, but S.C. Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt said the incentives were the “icing on the cake.”

S.C. incentives included $4 million in grants from the state to York County to help pay to develop the site, property tax breaks from York County and job development tax credits from the state for both projects.

Existing jobs Lash will move to Fort Mill will qualify for a $1,500 credit per job. New jobs at Lash would be eligible for the full credit, which could be as much as $5,000 per job. All jobs at LPL Financial will quality for the full credit, Hitt said. He declined to explain why the LPL jobs that were moving from Charlotte qualified for full credit, while the Lash jobs moving from Charlotte would not.

Job development credits are a rebate of a portion of new employees’ withholding taxes that can be used by companies to help offset the cost of locating a facility, buying equipment and training employees.

The companies moved south to take advantage of a site that allows them to expand while still keeping their presence in the Charlotte market, Hitt said.

“North Carolina will do just fine,” Hitt said. “We just had the right plan, the right place.”

Mark Farris, York County’s economic development director, said the focus should not be on location, but rather that 3,200 new jobs were kept in the region.

In recruiting the two companies, York County emphasized the “exurban” atmosphere of the area. Most of the recruitment meetings were held at Baxter Village, close enough to Charlotte and to the Anne Springs Close Greenway.

“Baxter gives you a sense of place,” Farris said.

The greenway was a deciding factor for each, Lash and LPL officials said.

So, too, was the opportunity to design their buildings in Kingsley Park North, a 530-acre site. Farris said about 30 acres of the site fronting S.C. 160 will be developed as retail and commercial.

The recruitment process for these office projects was decidedly different from recruiting a manufacturer such as Giti Tire in Chester County, Farris said.

“With manufacturing, it’s all about the bottom line, about return on investment,” he said. “With these projects, it’s about talent pool, having uniqueness.”

Having the necessary talent pool was a concern of the Lash Group, but Haley assured company officials South Carolina would do what was needed to train employees.

Don Worthington •  803-329-4066

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