ROCK HILL, S.C. — The Carolina Panthers training facility project is still in limbo, and a Rock Hill, South Carolina, business owner spoke out about his concerns by writing a letter and sending it to city and county leaders.
Ryan Sanderson is the co-founder of the Knowledge Perk coffee shop.
In his letter, he asked leaders to work together so the Panthers training facility project doesn’t leave Rock Hill.
“I’m not just trying to look out for my business and my employees, but I’m trying to look out for my kid’s businesses down the road and my grandkid’s businesses down the road,” Sanderson explained. “And I don’t want us to set a precedent of not being able to communicate with the public and [not] collaborate with each other, and lose something as significant as this deal.”
The project was projected to have a major impact on Rock Hill’s economy. According to the Panthers website, the 240-acre site would eventually include a state-of-the-art practice facility, new headquarter offices for the Panthers, corporate offices, residential and retail space and even a medical facility.
Sanderson said he was hoping to build a relationship with the Panthers, which could have turned into a major wholesale deal. After struggling for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was looking forward to some much-needed relief with this deal.
Rock Hill’s city council leaders met for a regular council meeting Monday night, just a week after the York County leaders voted to make the Panthers a new funding offer for public infrastructures such as roads, sidewalks and sewers, so the project could resume. Rock Hill city council leaders voted Monday in favor of York County's offer to the Panthers.
York County Chamber of Commerce President Dean Faile said his office is monitoring the situation, adding uncertainty at any level is not good for business.
“That adds to internal anxiety, but it also adds to planning difficulty," Faile said. "Are we planning for this outcome or that outcome? In this case, I think the uncertainty adds to the frustration of an exciting project.”
Sanderson is calling on leaders to have better communication with business owners. He started a Change.com petition, which as of Monday evening garnered dozens of signatures.
“I know for a fact that smaller contractors, laborers, they’re freaking out right now because they’ve brought on hundreds of employees,” Sanderson said. “In some cases, people have moved here specifically for this job, and now they don’t know if they’re going to start work again this week or not.”
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Rock Hill City Councilmember John Black responded to WCNC Charlotte’s request for comment with a statement, which said:
“The city of Rock Hill is always open to discussions with all parties involved. There have been ongoing and continuous negotiations since the development was announced. The City has been very clear and upfront about its participation in this project from the beginning foregoing 100% of the projects tax revenue without putting the risk on the backs of our citizens. We hope to continue to talk with all parties, including the Panthers, and come to a suitable resolution for all parties.”
Tepper Sports and Entertainment did not respond to a request for comment.
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