‘Profits? No, we’re not in it for the profits’

Officials with a Florida-based development company were all smiles Thursday after the S.C. Senate passed a bill that would give them incentives to build an upscale mall near Hardeeville.

While Sembler Co. would receive local incentives under the the bill – rather than a state handout as it originally sought – company President Jeff Fuqua hailed the amended version as “a great victory for economic development” in the area, according to a report in the Greenville News.

“… (The bill) gives our company the ability to continue with plans for a high-end shopping mall that not only creates jobs but attracts new tourism dollars and expands the tax base,” Fuqua said in a press release.

How magnanimous of Sembler! It’s main motivation in building the mall appears to be creating jobs for folks in the Lowcountry, bringing in tourists to benefit South Carolina and growing the tax base.

Sembler and the South Carolina legislators who voted for this foolishness can dress up it up any way they want, but, as Waldo Lydecker so succinctly put it, it’s just another example of a “cheap land, cheap labor and tax bribes economic development package.”

Sembler likely stands to make a healthy profit if this projects succeeds, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, taxpayers shouldn’t be expected to cover the developer’s costs or assume its risks.

If this luxury mall is such a good idea it shouldn’t require a government handout, whether it be state or local. 

And if Sembler isn’t willing to build without a government handout, then the mall shouldn’t be built.

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