Incentive Opportunities

To help offset the "cost of doing business" and attract private investment, many incentive opportunities are available to commercial developers and new businesses in the form of tax credits and attractive loans. These incentive opportunities stem from federal, state, and local sources, and more than one may be applicable to a given development. Information on the incentive opportunities that are currently available in Dorchester County is included below.

Financial Incentives

New Markets Tax Credits

What It Is: Interest-only/low-interest B or NMTC loans for businesses/organizations engaged in certain development activities within qualifying distressed areas on a competitive basis. These loans augment the lending capacity of conventional banks or A loans by up to 39% and may be forgiven after 7 years.


Distressed Areas: NMTC are only applicable within Census Tracts characterized as distressed in the US Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey (ACS).

Applicable Activities: A variety of mixed use, commercial, and industrial developments.

View the Interactive Map to identify designated Distressed Areas to help determine if your project meets the criteria for this incentive.

Healthy Foods Financing Initiative: Healthy Food Retail Loans

What It Is: Bridge, gap, working capital, machinery/equipment, and permanent loans of up to $500,000 at attractive or discounted rates to help bring accessible healthy food retailers within USDA-designated Food Deserts.


Food Desert: A Food Desert is an area that contains a significant number of low-income residents that do not live within an accessible distance from a healthy foods retailer.

Applicable Activities: Construction and renovation of healthy foods retail or wholesale outlets, to include grocery or corner stores, famer's markets, food hubs, mobile markets, and similar facilities

Visit the USDA ERS site to determine if your property is located within a designated Food Desert. Visit Lowcountry Housing Trust or call (843) 973-7285 for more information.

Revolving Loan Fund (RLF)

What It Is: Gap financing at attractive fixed rates that can be used for machinery, equipment, real estate, and inventory acquisition, as well as site and building improvements. Supporting start-up and expanding companies, the objective of the RLF is to create 1 job per every $10,000 borrowed.


The RLF is managed by the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments (BCDCOG). For additional information, call the BCDCOG at (843) 529-0400.

Tax Credits & Exemptions

Abandoned Buildings Revitalization Act (ABRA)

What It Is: Credits of up to $500,000 applicable toward income taxes, real property taxes, or corporate license fees for the upfit, rehabilitation, and adaptive reuse of Abandoned Buildings.


Eligible Abandoned Buildings : Buildings to which 66% of its interior space has been closed continuously to business or otherwise non-operational for income producing purposes for a period of at least 5 years.

Applicable Activities: Income-producing activities

Qualifying Rehabilitation Expenses: The costs incurred during rehabilitation, demolition, renovation, redevelopment, and expansion (not to exceed 200% in size) of existing structures onsite; environmental remediation and site improvements of the building site; and the construction of new buildings and other site improvements.

Retail Facilities Revitalization Act

What It Is: Income or property tax credits equal to 10% and 25% of the costs of renovating, improving, and rehabilitating Abandoned Retail Facilities.


Eligible Abandoned Buildings: Eligible buildings/structures must meet all of the following criteria:

  1. Primarily used for retail
  2. At least 25,000 square feet in size
  3. At least 80% of its interior space has been closed continuously to business or otherwise non-operational for a period of at least 1 year at the time that the determination is made.

Applicable Activities: Income-producing activities

Applicable Rehabilitation Expenses: The costs incurred during rehabilitation, partial-demolition (not to exceed 25% of the existing structure), renovation, and redevelopment of existing structures onsite. At least 75% of the existing structure is retained.

The Retail Facilities Revitalization Act is repealed on July 1, 2016.

State Corporate Headquarters Credit

What It Is: Credits against corporate income or bank taxes or license fees equal to 20% of qualifying real property and/or 20% of qualifying personal property costs associated with the relocation or expansion of corporate headquarters within South Carolina for the first 5 years of operation. If a taxpayer is eligible for credits against real property, he/she may be eligible for credits against personal property.


Applicable Facilities: Corporate headquarter facilities where (1) corporate/executive staff or employees are physically employed and (2) the majority of the company's financial, personnel, legal, planning, information technology, and/or other headquarters functions are managed on a global, national, or regional level.

Local Corporate Headquarters, Corporate Office, and Distribution Facility Exemptions

What It Is: A 5-year exemption from property taxes (not to include school and municipal property taxes) granted by the County for the relocation or expansion of qualifying corporate headquarters or corporate office facilities within Dorchester County.


For properties that receive the County exemption and are located within incorporated areas, the municipality may grant an exemption of municipal property taxes for a period of 5 years.

Qualifying Relocations or Expansions:

  • The cost of new construction or addition must be at least $50,000
  • The relocation or expansion must yield at least 75 new full time jobs or at least 150 substantially-equivalent jobs

Low Income Housing Tax Credits

What It Is: Federal income tax credits awarded to developers of multi-family residential developments that meet affordable rent criteria for a period of 10 years. These credits, which amount to a dollar-for-dollar reduction in federal income tax liability, are sold to investors in the form of equity contributions, reducing the overall debt the developer would otherwise have to borrow and allowing the developer to offer reduced rents.


Affordable Rent Criteria: Rents must reflect rent limits set by the SC State Housing Finance and Development Authority. Visit their website for information on income and rent limits for Dorchester County.

Qualifying Projects: Affordable multi-family residential housing developments

For more information on this incentive and the application process, please visit the State Housing and Finance Authority or call (803) 896-9190.

Commercial Real Property Tax Exemption

What It Is: Partial exemption of taxation of up to 25% of an ATI Fair Market Value following an Assessable Transfer of Interest (ATI) of commercial real estate, if certain criteria are met. An ATI is the transfer of ownership interest or conveyance of property from one person/entity to another person/entity (with the exception of spouses).


ATI Fair Market Value: Fair Market Value of real property and any improvements thereon as determined by appraisal at the time the ATI occurred.

Qualifying Properties:

  • The property must be assessed at 6% before and after the ATI
  • The ATI occurred after 2010

If you are eligible for the Commercial Real Property Tax Exemption, please visit the Assessor's Office or call (843) 832-0162 or (843) 563-0162. You may also download the Commercial Real Property Tax Exemption Form.