“My military experience strengthened my ability to build teams to develop and achieve goals – a skill that has served my clients exceptionally well.”
John serves as Counsel in the firm’s Government Relations practice group where he assists a diverse group of domestic and international clients with economic development advice and government affairs representation at the local and state level.
As a leader of the firm’s Economic Development Team, John has experience assisting manufacturers, real estate developers, and warehouse/distribution facilities with securing state and local tax incentives, grants, and tax exemptions. John focuses on finding cost savings and up-front money for his clients through various incentive arrangements and vehicles to include abandoned building tax credits, energy grant programs (state and federal), fee-in-lieu of tax agreements, historical tax credits (state and federal), income tax credits, property tax credits (i.e. "Bailey Bill" and others), multi-county business parks, port volume increase tax credits, retail and textile revitalization credits, state and local grant programs, state job development/retraining tax credits, and other individualized arrangements. His economic development knowledge coupled with his government relations experience makes John a valuable asset in developing new comprehensive incentive packages, improvements or extensions of existing incentive packages, creation of workforce development strategies, and any required statutory changes to help advance his client’s goals.
As a key member of the firm’s Government Relations Practice Group and the former General Counsel and Vice President of Government Relations with the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance, John has experience assisting manufacturers and other businesses with legislative and regulatory matters before the South Carolina General Assembly, the Governor’s Office, various state agencies, and local governments. For over three years, John represented and advocated for the South Carolina manufacturing industry on tax, economic development, environmental, energy, labor & employment, legal reform, and workforce development issues.
In 2021, John successfully helped draft and lead a coalition to pass the South Carolina COVID-19 Liability Immunity Act to protect businesses from frivolous lawsuits related to COVID-19. In 2020, he was also able to build a coalition and successfully pass the South Carolina Business License Tax Standardization Act that streamlines the State’s business license tax compliance requirements easing compliance burdens on businesses and clarifying what business income is excluded from the tax. He is also responsible for amending legislation to preserve $645 million in annual state manufacturing sales tax exemptions.
John finds purpose in every action he takes. Leaning into his work ethic, attention to detail, and family history in law, John offers passionate complex problem solving to his clients. Seeing the chance to help people as the reason he practices law, John works closely with clients, learning their goals and quickly assessing the risks they face. With impeccable organization, John assembles the right team who will represent his clients with the highest amount of integrity, while delivering the most optimal results in the most efficient manner possible.
When he’s not in the office, John enjoys spending time with his wife (Rachael) and their two young children (Piper & Jack) and you can find them around town at the local parks, the Riverbanks Zoo, or fishing on various rivers, lakes, and ponds around the state. As a former Division I Athlete and member of the Army Men’s Swimming Team, John still enjoys swimming and any type of physical exercise. He is a huge college football fan and loves the Alabama Crimson Tide, South Carolina Gamecocks, and the Army Black Knights.
John earned his J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law and his B.A. from the United States Military Academy.
Service has always been a core value of John’s. Prior to law school, John served in the United States Army where he was deployed on five combat rotations overseas. After serving our country, John takes great pride in serving the state and his local community by serving with various veteran organizations, state working groups, and with his church (Shandon Baptist). In 2021, John helped the South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs create the first statewide veteran and military spouse hiring event with a match-making component to make the event efficient for both job seekers and employers. He continues to volunteer his time to help grow this effort and helped plan four more hiring events around the state in 2022.
- Simultaneously led site selection and analysis, incentive negotiation, and implementation of all due diligence for a large U.S. agribusiness operation establishing a new West Coast facility and new East Coast facility and corporate headquarters relocation
- Simultaneously led site selection and analysis, incentive negotiation and implementation, and all due diligence for client’s new West Coast and East Coast manufacturing facilities
- Led site analysis, incentive negotiation and implementation, real estate transaction, and all other due diligence for a foreign manufacturer establishing their first U.S. plant and North American corporate headquarters
- Incentive negotiation and implementation for a large recycling facility and corporate headquarters relocation and coordinated with all state, local, and federal officials to develop a strategy to meet client’s goals of relocating their headquarters and establishing their first South Carolina operation
- Led incentive negotiation and implementation for a national real estate developer constructing a new speculative building in South Carolina
- Led site selection and analysis for a foreign corporation and electric vehicle Tier 1 manufacturer to analyze over 20 different potential sites in 4 Southeastern states to select a location for their new U.S. plant and U.S. corporate headquarters relocation; negotiated and implemented all incentives and utility rates and agreements, and performed all associated due diligence items associated with the new plant
- Negotiated and implemented incentives and real estate matters for an expansion for a boating manufacturer in South Carolina
- Advised over 200 manufacturers with tax, economic development, workers’ compensation, environmental, energy, labor & employment, and other legal issues
- Negotiated and Drafted over 45 Fee-in-Lieu of Tax Incentive Agreements and numerous Multi-County Business Park Agreements, job development credit applications, state and local grant applications, port volume increase tax credit applications, and abandoned building, retail, and textile revitalization credit notice letters
- Successfully passed the South Carolina COVID-19 Liability Immunity Act to protect businesses from frivolous lawsuits related to the coronavirus
- Successfully passed the South Carolina Business License Tax Standardization Act that streamlines the State’s business license tax compliance requirements easing compliance burdens on businesses and clarifying what business income is excluded from the tax
- Successfully amended legislation to preserve $645 million in annual state manufacturing sales tax exemptions
- Successfully defeated numerous pieces of environmental, tax, economic development, energy, labor & employment, and legal reform-related legislation that would negatively impact the manufacturing and business communities
- Drafted, negotiated, and worked with the South Carolina Governor’s Office and South Carolina Department of Employment & Workforce for an Executive Order to be issued by Governor McMaster to allow businesses to voluntary make furlough payments to furloughed employees during the COVID-19 pandemic to give furloughed employees their full salary while not disqualifying them from state unemployment benefits
- Worked with the South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control to grant blanket extensions for environmental permit reporting and testing requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Drafted, negotiated, and received SC DHEC, SC OSHA, and accelerateSC Task Force’s approval of guidance for manufacturers during the COVID-19 pandemic Basic Operations for Manufacturers During COVID-19
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Professional & Community
- Secretary and Board Member, West Point Society of Columbia (2015-Present)
- Member, Shandon Baptist Church
- Member, South Carolina Economic Developer’s Association (2015-Present)
- Executive Committee & Member, Urban Land Institute, South Carolina Midlands (2016-2018)
- Board Member, South Carolina Bar: Military & Veterans’ Law Section (2016-2018)
- Kershaw County Committee of 100
- Member, Chester Development Association
Legal Practice Assistant
Stephanie A. Castillo
- J.D., cum laude, University of South Carolina School of Law (2015)
- B.A., United States Military Academy (2006)
- South Carolina
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