SC Commerce wants to borrow money to help the Gallo project


The Commerce Department wants to spend $ 8.3 million on upgrades to allow the $ 400 million Gallo Winery project in Chester County to move forward.

State spending for this development will include road improvements and environmental mitigation, according to documents from the Joint Obligations Review Committee, which helps approve state agency spending on spending. investment.

Secretary of State for Commerce Bobby Hitt said the Gallo Winery project will affect wetlands. To mitigate these effects, the state will purchase land four miles away and use it to expand Landsford Canal State Park in Lancaster County, the Commerce Department said.

California-based E&J Gallo Winery plans to build $ 400 million to build a manufacturing facility on 600 acres of land in Chester County, which could create up to 500 jobs in the state. Gallo also plans to open three tasting rooms in the state.

The JBRC on Wednesday gave Commerce its blessing to borrow $ 8.3 million for the project, but it must be approved by the State Fiscal Accountability Authority, which includes the governor, state treasurer, comptroller general and officials. Presidents of the Finance Senate and House Ways. and the means committees.

However, JBRC lawmakers have been pushing for the project to be funded from the state’s annual budget, especially as more than $ 1 billion in one-time money is available for spending in the spending plan. 2021-2022 fiscal year.

“I wonder if it would be better for us to just appropriate the money rather than borrow it,” said State Representative Gilda Cobb Hunter, D-Orangeburg.

State Representative Murrell Smith R-Sumter, who chairs the Budget Ways and Means Committee, said he supported the spending, but it was best if the project went through the legislative process traditional.

State lawmakers, particularly in the Senate, have criticized the way Commerce distributes incentives to businesses that may be able to cover the costs themselves and whether those businesses are actually creating the number of jobs they promise.

Senators also brought members of the Commerce Department to a chamber office while they debated the Gallo Bill to ensure their incentives were appropriate.

“The only thing I hate to see is that we are caught up in discussions about creating jobs in South Carolina and we have to borrow money because it is easier to borrow money. money than to go through the legislative process where we got a billion dollars surplus and we can’t give $ 8.3 million to trade, ”Smith said.

The House Ways and Means Committee is working again on a spending plan for the next fiscal year now that revenue estimates have increased for the next fiscal year. The House may be able to add the project to the state’s spending plan, Smith said.

Joseph Bustos is a state government and state political journalist. A graduate of Northwestern University, he previously worked in Illinois covering government and politics. He has won reporting awards in Illinois and Missouri. He moved to South Carolina in November 2019.
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