Aerial View of Nexton
Berkeley County, one of the three counties which comprise the greater Charleston Trident Region is the fastest growing county in South Carolina. It is the 40th fastest growing county in the United States. Despite its growth, the county is focused on protecting the rural nature of much of the county in order to have a high quality of life.
Berkeley is known for the vast waterways and lakes, forests and fields which support the forestry industry and recreational fishing and boating.
Does growth mean change for Berkeley County?
In order that the county manage future growth and development so as not to disturb the primarily rural nature of the county the County Supervisor Bill Peagler issued guidelines for growth in 2016. He further directed that “Berkeley County Council, the Berkeley County Planning Commission and the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments to build upon the existing Principal Growth Area so that it serves instead as a Principal Growth Boundary.” This will effectively coordinate growth and maximize development to areas of the county where infrastructure and utilities already exist.
Berkeley County Supervisor Bill Peagler is quoted in the Berkeley Independent as saying about the rural parts of the county, “We have to be extremely careful in how we develop that area...The reason we have addressed this so diligently we have to strike a balance between what we think are the economic needs of Berkeley County versus the quality of life.”
Berkeley County grows and attracts new development and manufacturing
According to the Berkeley County Economic Development office, "Businesses have committed to an investment of $785 million and the creation of 3,200 new jobs in Berkeley County since the beginning of last year ." Volvo which will build their S60 sedan in their new plant in Berkeley county is responsible for 2,000 of these new job commitments. Gerber Childrenswear, Tire International, American Synthetics and Moulton Logistics have also committed to significant investments and business in the county in the coming years. Berkeley County has long been the home of a Google server facility in the town of Goose Creek.
As a result of active and ongoing recruitment efforts, Berkeley County has expanded tremendously in population and in attracting new manufacturing. The current population of the county is approximately 200,000. The Berkeley Charleston Dorchester Council of Governments projects an expected population of 220,000 by year 2030. However, at the current growth pace, one might expect that number to be reached sooner than 2030.
On day ten of the school year this year, Berkeley County schools reported 755 more students than expected. Enrollment was 34,082.
This growth is responsible for high wages when compared to average wages in other Lowcountry counties. Berkeley County residents, with an average weekly wage of $888, earn more per week according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics than the other Lowcountry counties.
In May, Blackbaud, the largest publicly traded software company in the state announced a major investment and expansion. The company is building a new world headquarters at Daniel Island, in Berkeley County. Their new “360,000-square-foot environmentally friendly campus which Holder Properties will build and lease to Blackbaud will ultimately accommodate thousands of the company’s global workforce, and will serve as a hub for the advancement of philanthropic interests.”
Aerial View of Cane Bay Plantation
Infrastructure expands, causes changes from growth corridor to growth boundary
In February 2016, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker “announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1.65 million grant to Berkeley County, South Carolina to construct a new regional sewer system to support automaker Volvo’s first U.S. manufacturing facility...this project will help to create 2,000 jobs and spur $500 million in private investment.”
This award and the expansion of sewer lines towards the Volvo plant caused some in the county to worry about potential growth of high density new home development in the communities along the new sewer line route. This is what Supervisor Peagler does not want to happen. He has been quoted saying no to rural area growth. “Not no, but hell no... I don’t take these things lightly. At the end of my administration, I want to look back and say I did a good job and I want to feel that way too. I don’t want to change for the sake of change. If it has to be a change, it has to be a certain protocol and never forget the people who live here because they’re the ones that really count.”
New homes to be built in Berkeley County
In the coming years, more than 30,000 new homes are planned for construction in Berkeley County. A great amount of this growth will happen in the lower portions of the county where Cainhoy community is located as well as in the Summerville, Goose Creek and Moncks Corner areas. The county’s 2016 expedited plan review process will help developers and others speed new growth and developments to provide residences and retail to serve the needs of current and future residents.
The Charleston Trident Association of Realtors released statistics on home sales in Berkeley County in October 2016. “400 homes sold at a median price of $206,583 in Berkeley County in September. There are currently 940 residential properties for sale in Berkeley County—795 single-family homes and 145 condos/townhomes.”
It is clear that Berkeley County’s growth oriented, business friendly government is helping the county grow, but not at the expense of the quality of life fabled by those who enjoy the open fields, forests and waterways of the county.
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