Union County is making significant progress by working through its newly adopted Comprehensive Plan addressing a variety of priority topics such as economic and community development, transportation, housing, community facilities, and public engagement. The plan defines a shared vision for Union County’s future that will improve the quality of life by balancing social, economic, and environmental needs of the community. A key element to the success of the planning process was public engagement and involvement as citizens, local officials, and stakeholders developed a plan that residents would support and embrace.
Economic and Community Development
Union County continues to grow a healthy economic climate by recruiting targeted industries, providing support for existing industry, and encouraging diverse business growth. As a result of these efforts, MycoWorks, a biotechnology company specializing in luxury–leather alternatives, announced plans to establish operations in Midway Green Industrial Park by upfitting the Midway Green Industrial Spec Building through a $107 million investment creating 400 new jobs. Through a $10.8 investment, Tiger Companies purchased the former Midway Milliken Plant to establish distribution and light manufacturing operations serving the construction, surveying, office, and medical markets; the company expects to create over 61 new jobs. Other companies announcing new investment and job creation include Covalent Chemical, Standard Textile, CSL Plasma, Milliken, and Dollar General.
Union County is on the move attracting new retail establishments to the community. Small towns continue to face hardships in this area but Union County has overcome the odds by having a large number of nearby companies, services, and industries providing the infrastructure to assist in attracting retail and commercial businesses to the area. In addition, the County’s close proximity to more urban areas and designation as a micropolitan city, has provided a competitive edge in business recruitment. Starbucks will open its doors within a few weeks providing the company’s flagship brand to citizens. Tractor Supply, the leading rural lifestyle retailer targeting farmers, ranchers, home improvements, and garden maintenance, expects to open in December 2022. Both companies will become valued partners through their mission to support and strengthen the communities they serve. Also, the County is working through several strategies to support its small business network and grow the presence of an entrepreneurial ecosystem along the Main Street area.
Public transportation will soon be available to residents in Union County through a partnership with The Chester Connector. The three-year pilot program is funded through a SCDOT grant and local matching funds from Union County. “Demand Response” service will run Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., providing access to medical appointments, grocery stores, pharmacies, and essential shopping needs. Passenger fare is $1.00 per trip or $2.00 round trip. Initially, passenger trips will remain in Union County during the three-year pilot program. Service is expected to begin in December 2022.
Results from Union County’s 2021 Housing Market Study indicated a definite need for single family housing evidenced by job growth in the industrial sector and the lack of available housing to support demand. Planning for a new subdivision is currently underway along the SC Hwy 215 corridor close to existing retail, restaurants, and commercial businesses. The preliminary layout provides the potential for 50 new single-family homes in Phase 1 of the project along with other residential amenities. In addition, the site could accommodate future buildout of additional homes, retail, restaurants, and office space. Construction is expected to begin within the next 6-12 months.
In partnership with Charter Communications, the County’s Broadband Focus Group is working through several initiatives to expand broadband infrastructure to unserved and underserved areas of Union County. Currently, Charter is completing Phase 1 of RDOF (Rural Digital Opportunity Fund) buildout in the County targeting well over 2,500 locations considered unserved or in difficult development areas. In addition, the taskforce, local leaders, and stakeholders worked alongside Charter representatives in August 2022 to gather information and data for the American Rescue Plan Act -State Fiscal Recovery Fund Grant. Deployment will target mapped priority areas generally located in the more rural areas of Union County.
Community Facilities and Public Engagement
Improvements to community facilities are currently underway delivering building renovations, utility infrastructure improvements, industrial site development, and a host of other projects targeting the County’s parks and recreation facilities. The majority of funding will come from grants and public- private partnerships.
Encouraging participation and active living through community wide events is a top priority in order to plan for events that enhance the quality of life. Union County offers a variety of community sponsored events each year bringing people to together in public spaces which highlight the County’s assets and celebrates its special character. Ongoing events include the local Farmer’s Market, festivals, concerts, athletic and specialty events, and outdoor gatherings. For over 100 years, people have come together for one week out of the year to experience fun, food, and entertainment at the Union County Agricultural Fair. This year’s event runs October 18 -22 at the Union County Fairgrounds, 120 Kirby Street, Union SC.
Union County’s Comprehensive Plan is a roadmap for the next 10 years. Public support and engagement will be crucial to the Plan’s success. Join us as we make Union County an even greater place to live, work, play, and call home.