North Columbia Business Association endorses Bull Street Development
Within the first few minutes after Veronica Rodriguez was recognized as president and chair of the North Columbia Business Association, Government Affairs Coordinator Donald Gist announced that the NCBA officially would endorse the Bull Street Development project.
NCBA’s public endorsement of the project is one of many from local organizations. The Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce and The Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation have been strong advocates for the development since last year.
Gist called the Bull Street project, which will be known as Columbia Commons, one of the “most significant economic developments in last 40 years for Richland County and the city of Columbia.”
Gist said the endorsement came after many conversations with the Chamber and time to contemplate the benefits of the project for the North Columbia corridor.
Gist said the project would create 11,000 permanent jobs and $581 million in new labor income annually.
“This development will create a whole renaissance for the North Columbia,” he said.
Gist said Columbia Commons could create jobs for young people who live in North Columbia neighborhoods as well as draw talent from local higher education institutions including Benedict College, Allen University and the University of South Carolina.
He also said it would open a door for some businesses in North Columbia to move into the development.
Gist and former NCBA President Tommy Burkett said North Columbia is centrally located to major roadways including Monticello Road, Fairfield Road and North Main Street, all of which feed into downtown Columbia.
“We believe we’re the gateway,” Gist said.
Gist said NCBA would continue to build a relationship with the Chamber and ensure that business and community leaders are represented in discussions with Columbia Commons developer Bob Hughes.
NCBA specifically aims to ensure their business members will have access to the procurement process for infrastructure, construction, plumbing and other bid projects, said Gist.
“We will work with the city to make sure we have a good partnership,” he said. “We are an all-American city.”
Rodriguez said she thought the Bull Street project was interesting but that details need to be worked out with regards to short-term and long-term operation and management goals. She said a major hurdle would be making sure Hughes uses local companies to take the lead on construction.
“There’s still a lot to be hammered out,” she said.