Originally created 02/04/05

Agency to use funds to attract company



AIKEN - The city's independent economic agency is prepared to sink as much as $250,000 into a speculative building that has been on the market for more than a year to lure an out-of-state paint shop to town.

The company would bring 20 new jobs to Aiken.

The Aiken Corp. agreed Thursday to begin negotiations with a painting and coating firm to fill the spec building, which was constructed last year to stimulate economic activity by attracting new business to the area.

The 30,000-square-foot unfinished structure needs roughly $650,000 worth of improvements, including flooring, lighting and landscaping, before any business could occupy the building.

The Aiken Corp. said it was willing to invest $250,000 to retrofit 30 percent to 40 percent of the building on the corner of Beaufort Street and Willow Run Road if the firm committed to a five-year lease. The agency would drop $150,000 of improvements into the structure if the firm signed on for a three-year lease.

The Aiken Corp. also is willing to sell the structure to the firm for $650,000 without making any further improvements, although the company indicated it was leaning toward a lease agreement.

Since the spec building was completed, at least seven firms have toured the building. Two of those have relocated their production facilities to other sites in town, said Wade Brodie, the chairman of the Aiken Corp.

"Spec buildings increase traffic flow because projects look at existing buildings before building one," he said "They come in and look at it, they may not like it, but they might find something (else) locally."

On average, spec buildings generally stay on the market for two or three years, he said. But if his agency decides to sell the building to the painting company, it plans to build another spec structure.

Reach Krista Zilizi at (803) 648-1395, ext. 106, or krista.zilizi@augustachronicle.com.