JONESVILLE — An economic development project known for months by the code name “Project Southern” was revealed Wednesday morning to be a $47 million expansion of the Belk distribution and fulfillment center in the Jonesville area of Union County.
“Belk has certainly exceeded our expectations from their initial investment commitment in 2012 of $4.5 million dollars and 124 jobs,” said Andrena Powell-Baker, executive director of the Union County Development Board. “This second expansion demonstrates confidence in their e-commerce growth strategy. We are grateful that Belk has chosen to grow their business in Union County.”
Since May, Union County Council has voted to approve a resolution and an ordinance supporting a company identified only by the code name Project Southern.
“This expansion represents more jobs for our citizens, more tax base for government services and schools, and shows continued confidence in the future Union County,” said Union County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair. “I commented at Belk’s initial opening that it fit like a good pair of shoes. Now, with a 345,000 square foot addition to the existing building, $47 million in new investment for a total of $93 million, it is more like a new suit. On behalf of our community and citizens, thank you Belk.”
The resolution stated that if the company invested $40 million and created 20 new, full-time jobs with benefits between Jan. 31, 2014 and Jan. 31, 2018 then the terms of two different credits provided to the company under an agreement with the county would be extended an additional five years.
The ordinance amended the Special Source Revenue Credit (SSRC) Agreement for Project Southern.
County officials declined to reveal the identity of Project Southern, saying only that it was part of the county’s comprehensive economic development plans to provide diverse job opportunities for Union County residents.
The mystery of Project Southern’s identity came to end Wednesday morning when a statement released by Gov. Nikki Haley’s office announced that “department store retailer Belk, Inc. is expanding its Union County e-commerce distribution and fulfillment center operations for the second time since establishing there in mid-June 2012. The $47 million investment will expand the facility footprint by 50 percent and add 20 new jobs, which will grow the company’s Jonesville presence to 314 employees.”
The announcement further stated that the expansion, which is expected to be completed in January 2015, will add more than 345,000 square feet of newly constructed space to the 515,000-square-foot building.
“Belk’s e-commerce business continues to grow, and with it the demand for increased distribution and fulfillment operations,” said John R. Belk, president and COO of Belk Inc. “Our Jonesville facility has been a key factor in our belk.com growth, and we are pleased to be able to invest additional resources in and to bring additional jobs to Union County.”
The Jonesville facility, located at 3805 Furman L. Fendley Highway, was recently acquired by CPA®:18 – Global, a non-traded REIT affiliate of global real estate investment trust W.P. Carey Inc. and is being leased to Belk. Belk and CPA®:18 – Global will invest a collective $47 million, which includes funding for construction and to upfit the facility with equipment such as conveyor systems, racking and automation.”
It further states that “Belk announced in December its intention to hire an additional 170 personnel by the end of 2015, and this expansion grows those expectations to add another 20 jobs. Those interested in employment opportunities with the company may visit Belk’s careers page and search for positions in Jonesville, S.C.”