Sub Station II owner Chris Kueny sees more SCANA employees coming to his sandwich shop in Cayce this fall since the utility began moving into its new headquarters nearby.
The influx led him to put up a sign near the complex at 12th Street and I-77 to attract more of its workers to his eatery.
"I'm seeing more wearing company ID tags," he said. "We're trying to get them over here."
Kueny's experience is an early indication of what city leaders expect will be the economic spin-off, as South Carolina's only Fortune 500 company settles in and plans development around it.
"SCANA is our Boeing," city planner Ken Knudsensaid, referring to a new aircraft manufacturing hub expected to bring thousands of new jobs and an economic boost to North Charleston.
Utility officials want a mix of offices, stores, restaurants and homes to rise around their $120 million headquarters and its nearby operations center.
"Our vision would include a small village-type area featuring restaurants and other retail facilities as well as some medical and residential development," company spokesman Eric Boomhower said.
There is no timetable for when that would happen, he said. "A lot of that will be driven by economic conditions and demand."
SCANA - corporate parent of South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. - can dictate much of what comes because it owns most tracts around its facilities.
Knudsen predicts it will be an upscale mix.
"SCANA is not going to develop anything that is going to be a detriment to their campus," he said.
Development on the 2 1/2-mile stretch of 12th Street between I-77 and the center of Cayce is restricted because much of the area is in a flood plain abutting the Congaree River.
Some projects already are sprouting:
- A subdivision of 208 homes is under construction about a mile north of SCANA on parcels not in its control. An adjoining retail and office complex is planned by another developer.
- Lexington County officials are starting to build a tennis center across from SCANA and are creating an industrial park to the south across I-77.
- State natural resources officials are interested in opening a park and natural area - a site once home to American Indians and colonial settlements - next to the tennis complex.
Meanwhile, Cayce officials hope to receive a proposal for a small cluster of riverside homes rivaling million-dollar residences a mile upstream in neighboring West Columbia.
New homes are part of the discussion about the 12th Street corridor's future, some regional planners say.
"At some point, I think that's going to happen," River Alliance executive director Mike Dawson said.
SCANA's impact will spill over to an industrial area on Frink Street two miles north of its complex, some city officials hope.
That area is home to concrete makers, steel recyclers and other industry that came when there were few neighbors concerned about Cayce's appearance.
"In time, Frink Street will have the opportunity to re-invent itself," city manager Johnny Sharpe said.
A team of planning consultants recommends Cayce adopt new standards for the 12th Street corridor to guide the appearance of what's built there.
The goal is to create an eye-catching gateway on the south side of the city of 12,500 people.
Their suggestions - part of a development and marketing plan dividing city leaders - include:
- Discouraging "conventional big box and large retail centers."
- Requiring commercial development "possess architectural significance."
- Putting power lines underground.
- Insisting on decorative lights, heavy landscaping and small business signs along a limited-access road.
While city leaders ponder those ideas, restaurateur Kueny says SCANA's move to Cayce is a major step in enabling a city overshadowed by neighboring Columbia to develop a new identity as an up-and-coming community.
"SCANA coming is an extra plum," he said, "a bonus."