Attempt to Keep Amazon in Limbo

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — Right before Christmas, under former Gov. Mark Sanford’s administration, Lexington received a huge holiday gift:  construction of a million square foot distribution center, spanning 26 acres.

Fast forward to today and the deal is not quite done, says Democratic Senator, Nikki Setzler.

“The state, through the executive branch of government gave it’s word to try to do this.  So we on the Lexington delegation are making the best efforts to do what was promised.”

To make sure the mega online retailer sets up as planned, Setzler introduced a bill that would exempt the company from collecting or remitting state sales taxes on products handled at the facility.  Seztler says what the company plans to bring to the Midlands is worth cutting the deal.

“We are talking about a $90 million facility.  They will commit to $60 million annual payroll, 1,250 full time employees with healthcare benefits, and 1,700 part time jobs.”

Those numbers sounds impressive, but not to small business owners like Kelly Tabor, owner of Good for the Sole shoe store in downtown Columbia.  He thinks all retailers should be on a level playing field.

“To not have to pay sales tax, it really hurts us. I think legislators should’ve looked into it a little further and said this might hurt our small businesses.”

“That was a concern,” said Sen. Setzler,  “But when you turn $60 million in annual payroll they will spend money with our local retailers.”

Kelly Tabor says that’s no guarantee.

“Customers come in here and try on our shoes and then buy ’em offline and that hurts us. I hopeful Amazon does step up and realize what they’re doing to small business.”

When or if that will happen is unclear. Even lawmakers say getting this legislation through will be difficult. Amazon has reportedly already put eleven managerial positions on hold and has said it will stop construction if the bill does not pass.

Gov. Nikki Haley opposes the measure but has said she would not veto it.