Originally created 08/13/97

Sharing proposed on money



AIKEN - The city of Aiken and the Aiken Corp. may have reached a middle ground on $1.2 million for which both entities have been competing from Aiken 20/20.

Aiken 20/20, a public/private partnership that funds city improvement projects, voted Tuesday to have the city of Aiken and the Aiken Corp. consider a proposal to divide the money between themselves.

The Aiken Corp. is a city-formed corporation whose duties include developing Aiken's industrial parks.

The proposal, developed by the Economic Development Committee that met Monday, calls for funding and developing Commerce Park, supported by the Aiken Corp.

Requests to Aiken 20/20 go through the Economic Development Committee before they reach Aiken 20/20.

The proposal also calls for cleaning up the Aiken Youth Correctional Center, and developing the Aviation Business Park and Ventures Industrial Park, all city of Aiken projects.

Commerce Park, to be located on 115 acres at the intersection of Willow Run and Beaufort Street, was voted down 5-2 in May by the Aiken City Council.

The city and the Aiken Corp. can discuss the proposal and their input will be referred back to Aiken 20/20, which will take a final vote on the issue Sept. 16.

"The good side of it was that we had two great projects for this area and we were hopeful that a compromise could be reached to achieve both objectives," said Moody Chisholm, an Economic Development Committee and Aiken 20/20 member.

The breakdown of funding for the Aiken Corp. would be $330,000 for the first payment on land for Commerce Park; $6,500 for legal and administrative fees; and $50,000 for a master plan, making a grand total of $386,500.

The city of Aiken would receive at total of $813,500 for its projects. Funding would be $300,000 for a new airport terminal; $400,000 for the development of Ventures Industrial Park; and $113,500 for the development of Aviation Business Park.

The funds would be distributed with the understanding and agreement that the city will repay the money interest-free to the Aiken Corp. over five years to fund further development projects.

Aiken Mayor Fred Cavanaugh said he didn't want to make a decision on the proposal without first consulting the city council.

"I can't say `Yeah, we'll take it,"' he said. "It's a council decision. But we'd rather have $800,000 than $200,000 or $300,000."

Wade Brodie, Aiken Corp. chairman, said it was important to develop Commerce Park.

"I hadn't seen anybody build a small industrial park close to the city," he said. "We've spent two years working on this."