LEXINGTON, SC (WIS) - Over a thousand new jobs are coming to the Midlands. Lexington County Council members are already paving the way for a major Amazon.com distribution center to be built in Cayce.
A company leader confirmed Tuesday evening that the online retail giant will be building their 10th distribution center in the country in Lexington County. The operation will have 1,249 full-time employees at full capacity, with another 2,500 seasonal employees during the peak Christmas season.
County officials and some of the state's top governmental leaders met in Lexington Tuesday evening to approve incentives that included tax breaks and donating 90 acres of land near Interstates 77 and 26.
The project, which was code-named "Project ASAP" before the public announcement, will be located on the 12th Street Extension in Cayce. The extension is already home to SCANA's new campus.
"There was a combination of factors [behind Amazon's decision]," said Amazon executive Frederick Kiga. "One is the proximity to markets, the other is the availability of workforce, and thirdly is a cooperation of state and local officials to get things done."
Amazon's $100 million investment is a huge shot in the arm for Midlands economic development. The project will be another major boost for a county that already has an unemployment rate of 7.6 percent, the state's lowest.
"It represents a big plug at a variety of different levels," said Governor Mark Sanford. "I think most of all, though, it's another marquee name coming into South Carolina, which signals to other marquee names across the national/global marketplace that South Carolina is a good place to do business.
The 90-acre location in Cayce has major advantages for Amazon, including proximity to Interstate 77 and the Columbia Metropolitan Airport. "We've never tried to steer geographically, it's always based on company needs," said Sanford. "If a company needs a port you can try to take them to Greenville, but they need to be where a port is. So it happened to be a fit between some of the attributes of the Midlands and some of the things this company was needing."
Officials from the Midlands as well as Amazon are eager to get the project moving as soon as possible. "We hope to wrap this up and be in construction by early next year, if not this year," said Kiga. The warehouse is expected to open before Christmas 2011.
In a surprise move after the Amazon announcement, the Lexington County Council took first reading on a measure to suspend blue laws in the county. Councilman Johnny Jeffcoat said the proposal is motivated in part by the Amazon.com deal.
The measure has to go through two more readings, but suspending the blue laws could also have a big impact on the Midlands' economic development. "Relaxing the blue laws can help recruit businesses to come here and fill those empty new buildings," said West Metro Chamber of Commerce President Gregg Pinner.