By Al Dozier

The Irmo Town Council is considering setting up an Economic Development Corp. to help provide relief to local businesses affected by the coronavirus.

At the April 21 council meeting, Irmo Mayor Barry Walker Sr. said several businesses have been adversely affected and need some help.

“A number of businesses have already folded,” he said, and the town needs to offer help to keep others open.

“We need to provide a ladder.”

Walker is proposing the appointment of board members to a proposed Irmo Economic Development Corporation that will establish financial support by negotiating with lenders.

The town has previously had an Economic Development Corporation, but town officials say it’s unlikely that organization is still up to date on government regulations.

Walker is also recommending that the town take measures to assure the safety of the community and consider having local businesses test employees for the coronavirus to make sure the community is protected.

During a discussion of the proposals, Councilman Bill Danielson said the town may not be able to force a business to test their employees.
Councilwoman Kathy Condom said local businesses could voluntarily have employees tested, and then post notices that employees have all been cleared.

Councilman Kelly Busch said the town should get input from the community on economic development. He said he did not think the town should be serving as a financer for local businesses, but could find other ways to help.

The council is expected to address the proposals further at the next meeting.

In other action, a proposal to put a limitation on terms of office for town council members failed to pass on second reading.

Councilman Erik Sickinger proposed the measure, which he said would prevent office holders from having entrenched power over a long period of time.

Walker, and other council members, opposed the measure after expressing the view that it is up to the voters to determine who serves and for how long.

In other action, the council gave unanimous first-reading approval to a $6.7 million Operations and Capital Budget for 2020-2021. Walker said the budget could run into problems if the town’s revenues from business licenses are cut short because of the coronavirus.

The council approved the submission of a paving project on Mosely Street to the Lexington County penny sales tax program.

The council approved a resolution that removes a felony check box on employment applications. The check box is considered an unfair denial of consideration for employment.

Town officials can still consider any criminal background records, but would not automatically reject an applicant because of the check box.

The council unanimously voted to approve Walker’s appointment to the Comet Board of Directors. Walker said his appointment would provide him with details of Comet bus services in the Irmo area, including the location of bus stops.

The council officially noted these new businesses in the Irmo area: Express Employment Professionals; Zebra Lawn Care LLC; The Skin Spot; Purple Crane LLC; and Joshua Fulton Dentistry.