The name Ironwood Farms has been cropping up as a new source for jobs and business in Cheraw for nearly a year.
On Oct. 6, 2011, The Chronicle reported that “Ironwood Farms is planning to take up business in Cheraw, but not before a few issues are resolved.” Those issues were centered around the question of possible environmental contamination at the site.
According to Mike Smith, administrator for the Town of Cheraw, a $28,800 environmental study, paid for by the town government, has resulted in a “clean bill of health from the Department of Health and Environmental Control.” That news, which came less than a month ago, has helped resolve some of the issues, he said.
However, by the time Chesterfield County Council passes a third and final reading of an ordinance this week to convey the property off ACL Avenue to the county — so that it can be leased to Ironwood — another deal will already be under way, said Smith.
“Ironwood Farms has now decided they will purchase the property,” said Smith, “which has been part of their options throughout the process.”
In very short form, the course of these negotiations evolved in this manner. The property in question, the old Pyramid Screen Printers building, was donated to the Anointed Word Ministries some years ago. But, as former Mayor Scott Hunter said last fall, “Because of Phase I environmental issues, the church has not been able to do anything with the property.”
The Town of Cheraw agreed to pay for the environmental study if County Council would accept ownership from the church and then lease the property to Ironwood Farms, at $1,000 a month, for three years, to recoup Cheraw’s investment.
But now that the property has been cleared of environmental issues, said Smith, Ironwood has offered to purchase the property from the church for $25,000.
Smith said town officials are not upset their money will not be recouped as planned. “We will soon have a piece of property that’s been vacant for more than 20 years generating jobs for our citizens, and that’s a move in the right direction for economic development,” he said.
“This is still a good thing for the town,” said Smith, “as we will be benefiting from the creation of jobs and business. Plus, we will be getting property taxes.”
When Ironwood Farms does open its doors for business, Cheraw will become a little “greener.” Ironwood Farms is an organic company that “makes money by sustaining the environment,” said Brenda Workman, director for the Chesterfield County Economic Development Board.
— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.