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The Orangeburg County project will receive $35 million. USDA announces money for sewers, entertainment.local

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing $35 million in grants and loans to develop Claflin College’s student center, mini-golf course, go-kart track, and sewer upgrades at Santee.

“The focus is on promoting access and equity in our rural communities and in rural America,” said Dr. Sandra Glover, director of the South Carolina Rural Development Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, at a news conference Monday morning. , and these projects speak to doing just that.”

Glover said the project, announced Monday, aims to address areas that have not benefited from the sector in recent times.

“We identified communities around South Carolina where rural development had had no impact in the last five years,” she said.

Glover described the project as “lifting Orangeburg County, transforming Orangeburg County”.

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“Rural development is about lifting communities, improving the lives of rural residents, and promoting economic development in rural communities,” Glover said.

Glover grew up in the Four Holes community of Orangeburg.

“This is very personal to me,” she said.

“We are here to meet the needs of our local communities,” said Glover. “When rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

Glover joined U.S. House Majority Leader James Cliburn and USDA Undersecretary for Rural Development Xochitol Torres Small for the presentation at the Orangeburg County Library and Conference Center.

“Whip Cliburn has always recognized that an investment in local people is an investment in the country as a whole,” Small said. “It’s really about connecting the region. If you create a place that people can be proud of, they can accomplish great things.”

“Each one of these is an investment in a place that is home and where people come back because they love it and are proud of it.”

“The Biden/Harris administration is honored to be an Orangeburg partner,” Small said.

Clyburn said 82% of graduates left the state when they graduated from South Carolina State University.

“How do you educate these kids so they can go somewhere else and be productive citizens elsewhere?” Cliburn said. “We want these young people who have left these institutions to become productive citizens here in South Carolina. That’s what these projects are all about.”

• $18 million USDA rural development community facility, direct and guaranteed loan for the construction of Claflin College’s three-story, 85,000-square-foot student activities and community center.

The target for opening the center is the summer of 2023.

The center includes classrooms, student life and esports areas, student meeting spaces, and a student café with national food service brands.

“This brings movie theaters accessible to this community back to Orangeburg for the first time in decades,” Cliburn said. “We have no intention of closing the campus, but we will open it to the public.”

The center has indoor and outdoor areas for seating and gathering on both the first and third floors.

Shared community spaces include a performing arts/theater auditorium and an 800-seat conference/ballroom.

Officials say the project will bring 250 new jobs.

The $18 million loan has a 35-year term and an interest rate of 2.5%.

In addition to the loan, the university has contributed $3 million and has a new market tax credit of $6 million for a total project cost of $27 million. has a new special: $1 for 26 weeks

Cletra Peters, vice president and chief of staff at Claflin College, said the president, Dr. Dwaun Womack, is adamant about not raising student fees or tuition and will raise money to pay off the loans. Stated.

“Hopefully we can burn off our mortgages before we open,” Peters said.

• A $5 million small business loan to the MAX family entertainment center.

A 30-year guaranteed USDA business and industrial loan will allow the Entertainment Center to build a miniature golf course and go-kart track at its current location at 1015 Red Bank Road off U.S. Route 601 near Interstate 26. I can.

A golf course and go-kart track will be built within the next six months.

“This will be a great boon for South Carolina, Claflin, Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College, and other organizations that are expanding into the area, so there will be family entertainment in the area,” Cliburn said. rice field.

Clyburn noted that professors, teachers, and administrators want family entertainment and homes.

“They need to be able to benefit from broader development,” Cliburn said.

MAX Family Entertainment owner Johnny Murdaugh Sr. said the loan will be repaid without impacting the center’s current costs.

“We looked at the prices in Columbia and Charleston and they are basically the same,” Murdow said. He said the center will remain competitive.

“I’m really excited,” he said.

The $4 million, 30,000-square-foot family entertainment center will officially have its grand opening and ribbon cutting in September 2021.

The center offers laser tag, trampolines, soft play, spin zones, and more, as well as food and refreshments.

The business previously received a $2.8 million loan from the US Small Business Administration.

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• A USDA Rural Development Water and Waste Disposal Loan of $11,893,300 will be used to upgrade and expand Santee’s wastewater treatment facility serving the town and adjoining communities.

The town plans to convert its outdated lagoon system to a new and more efficient wastewater treatment system.

Santee Mayor Donnie Hilliard said, “This will double our capacity, which means the town will breathe new life for another 50 years.

“Currently, the system is at its limit, so we can’t add more taps, so it’s slowing us down,” he said.

The expansion is expected to be completed within two years, Hilliard said.

The current system was built in 1975.

“The USDA has been kind,” Hilliard said, noting that the town could pay off the loan without raising taxes, but it would most likely result in more drainage.

“We have to raise rates anyway,” he said. I don’t know the amount yet.

This upgrade will allow the system to scale to 3 million gallons per day, ready for future needs.

This project is considered necessary to ensure that Santee wastewater is properly treated and the region can contribute to current and future economic development.

Of the amount Santee has received, $6.84 million is in grants and $5.1 million is in loans.

The term of the loan is 40 years and the interest rate is 1.5%. An estimated 1,496 people will benefit from this upgrade.

As housing development is expected to continue in the future, wastewater treatment facilities will be required.

“We’re seeing new growth along Interstate 95,” says Clyburn.

Orangeburg Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Kalu Kalu applauded the partnership between USDA and Orangeburg.

“We need a lot of help,” Cal said. “We want Orangeburg to be the place for these young people, so they’ll want to stay after they graduate. We don’t want them to go anywhere else.”

Orangeburg County Office of Administrative Services Director Angel Howell spoke on behalf of Orangeburg County, thanking the USDA for its years of support to the county with sewage, broadband, and emergency response funds.

“Thank you again, USDA,” Howell said.

Senator Vernon Stephens of D-Bowman said:

“They are there to bridge that gap. Over the years, we’ve seen that gap shrink.”

Stevens believes the project will help make Orangeburg County a destination.

“We’re looking at ways to really change the face of the individuals that make Orangeburg so appealing that they get on and off Interstate 26 and actually stop,” Stevens said. . “We are not only changing the landscape of Orangeburg County, we are changing the perception that Orangeberg County is not just a place to visit, but a place to actually live.”