Development

Nikki Haley cuts what could be one of her last ribbons as South Carolina’s governor

Nikki Haley and LPL Financial executives get ready to cut the ribbon at the company’s new campus in Fort Mill.
Nikki Haley and LPL Financial executives get ready to cut the ribbon at the company’s new campus in Fort Mill.

With an oversized pair of gold-handled scissors, LPL Financial and S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley on Wednesday officially opened the company’s new Fort Mill campus – in what could be one of the governor’s final such ceremonies before becoming U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Haley was nominated to the post by President-elect Donald Trump last week. A spokeswoman said after the ribbon-cutting that Haley wouldn’t be taking questions. LPL Financial’s decision to relocate from Charlotte to Fort Mill was one of Haley’s successes during her six years as governor, in which she racked up a string of high-profile business recruiting wins such as Giti Tire.

“It’s a great day in South Carolina,” Haley said. “The whole state is smiling today.”

LPL Financial, which provides back-end services for a network of more than 14,000 independent financial advisers, broke ground on their Fort Mill headquarters in February 2015. The company was one of two Charlotte firms that announced in 2014 they planned to hop the state line to South Carolina to the Kingsley Park development, along with Lash Group. LPL Financial moved about 1,000 employees, Lash Group, 1,200.

Both are planning significant expansions in the coming years, adding thousands more workers just south of Charlotte, off Interstate 77 across from Baxter Village. LPL Financial plans to employ up to 3,000 total.

The companies were lured in part with financial incentives worth tens of millions of dollars that North Carolina couldn’t match. South Carolina gave both firms $2 million to help prepare their sites in Fort Mill, as well as future tax credits based on how many employees they hire.

The office building, part of the Kingsley Park development, is the latest piece in the decades-long development of the Close family’s land holdings in upstate South Carolina. The process started with the 2,100-acre Anne Springs Close Greenway and then moved to Baxter Village, a mixed-use development that now has 1,400 households and more than 600,000 square feet of commercial space.

Dehler Hart, of the Springs Company and Clear Springs Development, said the Kingsley development is a key piece of the family’s vision.

“Almost 30 years ago, my grandmother Anne Springs Close and her eight children agreed to develop a plan and long-term strategy for their land holdings,” said Hart. “Over the years we’ve been extremely patient with this land and passed on many opportunities.”

The change has been explosive, from vacant and wooded land to a muddy, red clay construction site to the finished office buildings.

“Three years ago, there was nothing here,” said Hart.

LPL’s new campus covers 27 acres and includes 450,000 square feet of office space in two buildings. The design incorporates a large cistern that provides water for the campus’ needs, making it a “net-zero” water user. The building also includes energy-efficient systems, abundant natural light and hardwood reclaimed from trees harvested on site during construction.

“Our new offices reflect LPL’s commitment to employee well-being, our communities and our environment,” said LPL chairman and CEO Mark Casady. “We believe this campus creates tremendous pride for our employees and will further enable them to deliver superior service to our clients.

Although Haley didn’t address her upcoming new job in the Trump administration, some of the officials there told her they’ll be sad to see her go to Washington.

“I join countless others who will hate to see you move on in January,” Hart said to Haley.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo

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