S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster told an audience of about 300 that he believed “South Carolina is on the way up” economically and can continue its rise with more collaboration.
McMaster’s comments came during the Upstate SC Alliance annual meeting Wednesday at the TD Convention Center in Greenville.
During his remarks, McMaster touted the alliance’s ability to bring together different players to achieve economic growth for the Upstate region.
“Collaboration and leadership of the different sectors is why we are where we are,” McMaster said. “That is illustrated by the Upstate SC Alliance.”
He added that the same collaboration and leadership were among “all the pieces” already in place to “move South Carolina straight to the top economically.”
Among the other factors he said made the state economically competitive with other states was the port system. He mentioned specifically the deepening project at the Port of Charleston and the groundbreaking of Inland Port Dillon, the state’s second inland port.
“How do you spell ports? M-O-N-E-Y,” McMaster quipped. “When companies can move product in and out of your port, it means money.”
McMaster also sent a message to businesses that he was against new regulations and against any new taxes, saying “taxes kill business.” He said he has considered drafting an order directing state agencies on guidelines required for any new regulation. The purpose was to stop the process before reaching the Legislature.
He also discussed workforce development and the role the state’s 16 technical colleges play. He suggested schools were not able to produce enough labor for the state’s growing workforce but, he said some schools have changed their mission.
“Some of them are drifting to become community colleges and not tech colleges, and that’s a mistake,” McMaster said. He did not mention any college by name during his remarks.
Last year, according to the Upstate SC Alliance's annual report, more $1.9 billion in capital investment occurred in the Upstate. Of that, 34 existing companies announced expansion while 33 new companies came into the region. All told, 5,396 new jobs were created as a result of the capital investment announcements in 2016.
“In some years, you see a lot more existing companies expand but this past year it was equal and that is interesting,” said John Lummus, president and CEO of Upstate SC Alliance. “It says we are attracting more new companies here.”
The annual meeting closed with the release of the alliance’s strategic plan, which includes five areas of focus:
- Lead regional marketing and business attraction
- Move up the manufacturing value chain
- Engage intentionally in the global economy
- Establish the Upstate SC Alliance as an economic thought leader
- Anchor efforts in robust research
The alliance has also adopted a new mission to go along with the five strategies: “Firmly establish Upstate South Carolina as a unified and innovative economic region and position it to excel in the global economy through strategic marketing, collaboration and thought leadership.”
Max Metcalf, chairman of the Upstate SC Alliance board of directors, said, “It is about collaboration and it is important to this group, businesses and to the state.”