Dorchester Co. promotes job growth with rezoning despite community concern

Dorchester County says they have the lowest number of eligible people who can work but aren’t.
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 5:00 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 30, 2023 at 11:45 PM EDT
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DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Dorchester County says they have the lowest number of eligible people who can work but aren’t. That’s in comparison to Berkeley and Charleston counties. They’re hoping more industry can change that.

The county has requested to change more than 360 acres of residential land to industrial land in the Sugar Hill area off Highway 78 in St. George. Neighbors say they’ve never been told what is even going to go here and the county doesn’t know either.

“Well, the good thing is that Dorchester is so marketable, we can be a little bit picky,” Deputy Director of Dorchester County Economic Development Michelle McDonald said. “I can tell you, in our area, advanced manufacturing is what we want.”

McDonald says automotive, aerospace or bioscience companies are the goal, but neighbors think otherwise.

“A nice medical facility,” Richard Myers, lives on Sugar Hill Road, said. “We got to go to Walterboro or Summerville. I got to have blood drawn. You can’t get it in St. George. Not that I know of.”

McDonald says a hospital wouldn’t go in this area, but that doesn’t mean it won’t go anywhere else.

“The county definitely has plans in the works to bring more accessible services of parts to the upper part of the county,” McDonald said.

McDonald says this industrial plan has been in the works for 15 years and she compares it to the Winding Woods Commerce Park off Highway 78 that broke ground at the end of last year. She says this $100 million investment will bring $1.4 million just to the Dorchester County School District Four. She says she hopes this new development in the Sugar Hill area will give the same benefit.

Myers says he doesn’t want random warehouses.

“If I’m paying for something, I’d like to know what I’m paying for,” Myers said.

The county says they want this new development to keep local talent local.

“If we had jobs available right here in the upper part of the county where the people are, that’s what’s going to matter,” McDonald said.

The county had a community meeting Thursday to discuss these concerns together.

There is no information yet about how much this could cost because the county hasn’t decided on a developer yet. This rezoning request still has to go through the county council before it is approved.