‘Open for business’: County breaks ground on first privately-owned spec building in years

Summerville Journal Scene | February 28, 2019 | Jenna-Ley Harrison

Dorchester County leaders and other local officials gathered Thursday at the future site of the county’s first privately-owned speculative building in 15 years.

“This (will) be a tremendous asset to economic development,” said County Council Chair George Bailey, during a ground-breaking ceremony at the Eastport Commerce Park.

“I think a lot of people, as this building goes up, are going to be knocking on the door inquiring about, ‘Hey, let me in this beautiful project that’s going on.’”

The property is located adjacent to the Carl Knight Law Enforcement Complex on Deming Way.

An $11 million investment, the new spec facility is owned by Charleston-based MayRiver Industries LLC. Developer and owner Roy Maybank commended the project as “one of the finest class A office buildings in the county to date” and said a special inspector group has been on site ensuring every requirement for the project is being met.

“Our hope and desire is to be a good neighbor to all,” he said. “We’re a local business. …We are here to put a local face on a local business.”

According to Maybank, the county boasts a welcoming attitude, necessary for attracting new business—including his own.

“When we came to Dorchester County, there was a neon sign up…that said, ‘Open for business,’” he said.

The entire facility will be 128,000 square feet but constructed in two phases—the first 64,000 square feet completed by summer, according to John Truluck, economic development director for the county.

'Open for business'

Unlike Winding Woods, the county-owned spec building off Highway 78 in St. George, the Eastport building has the capability to subdivide space, into areas as small as 8,000 square feet, to make room for multiple companies.

While county staff said they’re primarily interested in having manufacturing and engineering industries move in, they won’t discriminate against any other company types that wish to fill the space and create local jobs.

“It looks like we getting a lot of logistics,” Bailey said, “but I’ll take anything we can get, as long as we can get jobs and tax base for our community, for our county. I won’t turn away anybody.”

Bailey also pointed out and praised the county for attracting nearly $360 million in capital investment and creating 1,800 new manufacturing jobs in the last four years alone.

With proximity near Norfolk Southern Railroad system, Interstate 26 and the ports, the county is prime real estate for industries looking to construct headquarters or expand, according to county officials. And the new planned spec building is evidence of that.

“I think it proves that investors are confident in the Summerville sub market,” Truluck said. “We want them to come here and see they can be successful.”

In recent years, as growth across the tri-county continues, there’s been a need for more office and industrial space.

“We’re low on product,” said Joy Tyson, marketing and investor relations manager for Dorchester County Economic Development. “We’re sorely lacking.”

And without space to offer companies, the county misses out on economic opportunities that wind up going to neighboring counties.

“You can’t be successful without product,” said retired Brigadier Gen. Henry Taylor, chair of the county’s Economic Development Corporation Board. “We can now go out and convince people this is the best place to be.”

County officials explained that at least 80 percent of business prospects are looking for a building to move into to start operations as soon as possible.

“By building this building, companies can almost immediately occupy it,” Truluck said. “More and more companies, time is a real constraint so they don’t have time to build their own building. So now they can come in…and be in, in month or so whereas it would take them nine months or so to build from the ground up.”