ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) -- When South Carolina gave Daimler Trucks $2 million to buy land in York County five years ago, the hope was the vehicle-maker would move its company's headquarters to the region.
But now Daimler Trucks is trying to sell the undeveloped land on Lake Wylie after deciding to expand its current headquarters in Portland, Ore.
The company won't have to pay back the money, because state officials determined Daimler Trucks met the original requirements for the grant, even without relocating its headquarters.
The grant required a $26.7 million investment, purchase of 200 acres and creation of 300 new jobs, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from The Herald of Rock Hill (https://bit.ly/1aAIllW).
Daimler Trucks spent $16.1 million on the 400 acres of land and $10.6 million on improvements to a building it leases in Fort Mill. The company also hired 300 workers in 2009 for a sales and marketing center in that building. The center now has about 500 workers.
The state made its deal with Daimler Trucks in 2008 as it competed with sites in North Carolina and other places. Some York County leaders were worried the company was being too vague with its plans. State grants are usually made through a county, but York County refused because officials worried the county might be financially liable if the project failed, former county administrator Jim Baker said. The town of Clover passed the money on to Daimler Trucks instead.
Buddy Motz was chairman of the York County Council at the time and agrees the requirements of the grant have been met. But Motz said he thinks new deals need to have "an asterisk in cases where the deal falls through."
State Sen. Wes Hayes said deals like the $2 million grant are needed to get businesses to come and stay in South Carolina.
If the company meets the minimum requirements, "that's the best you can hope for," the Rock Hill Republican said. "We do need to be careful, however, and make sure the payback is adequate."
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