Panthers move in limbo as SC Senate mulls over incentive package

Panthers move in limbo as SC Senate mulls over incentive package

YORK COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - The South Carolina Senate has yet to vote on what’s being called the “Panthers Bill” nearly a month after the SC House passed a version of the bill.

On Thursday, April 18, the bill made its way out of the Senate Finance Committee. It’s unclear when the Senate will vote on the bill.

At an unrelated event held at the Rock Hill York County Airport Wednesday, Congressman Ralph Norman said he is for the move of the Panthers to South Carolina, if it makes sense for taxpayers.

“I’m for let’s put it on the table,” Norman said. “If it doe,s let’s move forward, if it doesn’t, I wouldn’t want it to.”

Norman is not part of the discussions as it relates to tax incentives since that is done at the state level. However, Norman did meet with members of the Panthers organization in early February to discuss more about their interest in moving south.

“This doesn’t happen overnight, a deal like this,” Norman said. “So I think it makes sense for the public to see what’s being offered and to make sure it makes economic sense.”

If the Senate passes the House version of the bill, the Panthers could receive more than $7 million dollars in tax credits a year for moving to York County, South Carolina, that’s according to the House Committee on Finances report.

You can see more on the House bill here.

After the bill passed through the house in March, Representative Gary Simrill (R-District 46) clarified that South Carolina is not giving money to the Panthers, instead they are being offered a discount, per say, on state taxes.

If the Panthers deal goes through changes could be made at the Rock Hill York County Airport. Director Steven Gould says he has not spoken directly to the Panthers organization. However, if the Panthers were to use the airport, they would likely need a hangar to cover the aircraft. He also expects they would need a longer runway to accommodate a large plane.

The Rock Hill York County Airport is owned and operated by the City of Rock Hill. According to Gould it acts as a reliever to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

“Our job is to relieve the congestion at Charlotte Douglas so they can focus on their passenger flights and reduce delays for the passengers,” Gould said.

Private aircraft used for corporate business and hobbyists fly into the airport now.

Gould says the airport has enough traffic to fall just below a qualifying standard to receive federal funding. He anticipates the airport would meet the threshold if the Panthers moved to South Carolina.

“Our daily operations are pretty close to what we would need to receive federal funding for that and and with the type of activity they would bring to this area they would probably put us over that threshold to where we would qualify for the funding,” Gould said.

According to Rock Hill Mayor John Gettys, the airport is already scheduled for a runway upgrade that is expected to be completed by 2023. According to the Rock Hill City website, the runway is currently 5,500 feet in length.

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