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For decades, cotton has been intrinsically woven through the fabric of Lancaster County, and a newly announced multi-million dollar textile company seeks to carry on the tradition.
Lancaster County Economic Development Corp. President Keith Tunnell announced this week that Keer America Corp., the American arm of a Chinese textile company known for its manufacturing of cotton yarn, is the real name of Project Vino.
The company is a U.S. subsidiary of parent company Keer China, Tunnell said.
The project, which Lancaster County Council has discussed openly for months only by its code name, would see an investment by the company of $218 million and the promise of at least 500 jobs.
Plans for the company hinge on council approving final reading of several company-related ordinances during its Monday, Dec. 9 meeting.
“We’ll be voting on this project Monday night and the press release will come out from (South Carolina) Department of Commerce on Tuesday,” Tunnell said Thursday evening.
According to business filing records listed on the S.C. Secretary of State’s website, Keer America Corp. is listed as a domestic business in “good standing.”
The filing also states the company was incorporated within South Carolina on Feb. 12, 2013.
In May, Tunnell updated Lancaster County Council about Keer America, simply dubbed as “Project Vino.”
At that time, Tunnell said if all went according to plan, the company would open a manufacturing facility here, committing to invest $218 million and create 501 new, full-time jobs within eight years.
The average salary for the jobs would be between $13 and $15 an hour.
Tunnell said both sides are committed to making sure those jobs are created.
“I’m on the hook to find them 500 good workers and they are on the hook to pay them good wages,” Tunnell said during council’s May 20 meeting.
As part of the agreement, the company would receive special source revenue credits as long as it provides those levels of investment and jobs.
He said the company would also construct a 20,000-square-foot building to serve as the U.S. headquarters for the company.
Though he was reluctant to discuss any specifics about Project Vino at the time, he felt confident at that point the facility could be online by the end of 2014.
In September, council considered several resolutions and ordinances related to Project Vino, including unanimous approval of a resolution for the issuance of special source revenue bonds, not to exceed $7.7 million. The resolution approves the financing of construction or installation of certain economic development improvements for the company.
When asked by council members when the identity of the company would be revealed, Tunnell said that would happen before final reading of the related ordinances.
“I spoke to the company because the public does have the right to know who the company is and what it is,” Tunnell told council during the Sept. 23 meeting. “So before third reading we’ll release information about the company.”
“The company is aware they will have to divulge who they are and what they do before third reading,” Tunnell added during that meeting.
Also at that meeting, council voted 6-1 to approve first readings of: an ordinance authorizing the issuance of $7.7 million in special source revenue bonds; first reading of an ordinance authorizing a fee-in-lieu-of-tax agreement for the project.; and first reading of an ordinance to rezone a portion of a planned development district in Indian Land for Project Vino.
The latter ordinance allows a 38.6-acre tract within the Bailes Ridge PDD-5 district, located along Old Bailes Road and just off Charlotte Highway (U.S. 521), to exceed development intensity of 10,000 square feet per acre, allowing up to 13,000 square feet of building area per acre only on that tract of land.
Throughout October and November, council heard second reading for those ordinances, as well as several more related to the company.
Scheduled for council’s Dec. 9 meeting, council will hear final reading on several Project Vino ordinances, including: a special source revenue bond; a fee-in-lieu of tax agreement; rezoning of PDD 5 relating to Bailes Ridge; a multi-county park agreement between Lancaster and Chesterfield counties; removal of property from a joint industrial and business park agreement between Lancaster and Chester counties; and an amendment to the trust indenture with Wells Fargo.
Council has also scheduled public hearings during Monday’s meeting for residents to weigh in on three Project Vino items, including the two multi-county park agreement ordinances and trust indenture amendment.
According to the company’s website, as well as information from company profiles on LinkedIn and a listing of various textile manufacturers on www.backpack-bag.com, Keer America Corp. is a U.S. subsidiary of The Keer Group, based in Hangzhou, China.
Founded in 1995 and employing more than 2,000 people, the company is a leader in the textile manufacturing business and is known for its cotton-spinning capabilities.