Gratitude and optimism were the two keywords to describe SouthernCarolina Alliance’s Annual Regional Celebration held June 14 at USC-Salkehatchie in Allendale.
The 2017 SCA chairman Charles “Buddy” Phillips of Hampton County, 2018 Chairman L. Martin Sauls IV of Jasper County and – via a pre-recorded video – Executive Director Danny Black expressed their appreciation to the legislative delegations representing the 7-county SCA area of Allendale, Barnwell, Bamberg, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties. They also heralded the accomplishments within the region.
Phillips said that in 2017-18 there have been 627 jobs announced and $268.475 million in capital investment. He said there have been 13 new companies and 5 expansions.
“In the first five months of 2018, announcements have been made by 6 companies, totaling $76 million in private capital investment. Those companies have announced 209 new jobs,” he said.
“These companies will change the landscape of our communities,” said Phillips.
Sauls said he is excited for the opportunity to serve as SCA chairman and presented etched glass awards to each of the legislators present.
Those honored included Senators Brad Hutto (D40), Tom Davis (D46), Margie Bright-Matthews (D45), John Matthews (D39); and Representatives Lonnie Hosey (D91), Justin Bamberg (D90), Bill Bowers (D122), Jeff Bradley (D123), Robert Brown (D116), Michael Rivers (D121) and Patsy Knight (D97).
Absent due to recovering from shoulder surgery, Danny Black said in a video shown at the dinner that the legislators “have done a yeoman’s job to pass legislation” vital to the region. Some of that legislation supported a free-standing emergency room in Bamberg County, agricultural permitting to allow the region to compete for larger ag-related companies, and the Jasper Ocean Terminal.
Black outlined some of the 2019 goals of power rates, workforce education and development, local government funding, and improved roads and bridges.
Each of the legislators present was given the opportunity to respond.
Sen. Hutto said the 4,000 jobs created since the inception of SCA means “4,000 families.”
“The future is bright for our region,” said Hutto, “but the biggest and brightest is the Jasper Ocean Terminal. That is a game-changer. It is a big project.” He indicated that it would have a massive impact on lower South Carolina, more than that of BMW on the Greenville-Spartanburg area.
Sen. Bright-Matthews thanked the legislative and SCA staff “for making our jobs easier.”
“We are going to push the Jasper Port because it is a game-changer for our state and the southeast,” she said
She also thanked Beaufort County for joining the alliance and supporting its efforts.
“SCA gets you out of the political box and into what is good for your region,” said Davis. “It’s refreshing.”
“All of this matters,” he said. “The next ten years for this area will be tremendous,” but noted that “there is a lot more work ahead.”
Sen. Matthews, who represents parts of six counties, thanked his colleagues for working together. He also pointed out the need for improving the work skills of residents in the region. “When these opportunities come, we want our residents to get those jobs. We need a long-term strategy to provide educational opportunities and skills.”
He also said a “transportation corridor” would be needed to move product from the port to destinations nationwide.
Before the conclusion of the event, the Alliance recognized 11 graduates of the Salkehatchie Leadership Program.
Class members have spent 6 months acquiring a wide range of leadership skills.
Those honored included April Aikens, Daniel Alexander, Wayne Evans, Bryan Ross Kinard, Gwen Kinard, Peach Morrison, Yvette Rowland, Fred Templeton, Nick Toole, Sharon Witkin and James Zawacki.