Haley: Rural jobs bonuses working

By Bill Poovey
bpoovey@scbiznews.com
Published March 18, 2014

On a day when Gov. Nikki Haley talked about her administration’s economic development successes and South Carolina’s unemployment rate again dropping below the national average, she said there is an “interesting problem.” She said the state is running out of sites for new and expanding businesses.

Haley told a Greenville Chamber of Commerce luncheon audience that the $11 billion has been invested by new and expanding industries and almost 45,000 jobs have been created in the state since January 2011. The Republican governor said the state’s 6.4% unemployment rate in January was lower than the national rate for just the second time in 13 years and more South Carolinians are working than ever.

Gov. Nikki Haley speaks to Greenville Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by Bill Poovey)

Gov. Nikki Haley speaks to Greenville Chamber of Commerce.
(Photo by Bill Poovey)

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But the success has created a challenge, Haley said.

“We have, in South Carolina, started to run out of inventory,” she said. “When companies want to come to South Carolina we have actually almost started running out of space. So every county is working with us on new industrial parks, new areas so we have our inventory going. We don’t want to run out. So we are going ahead and working on that.”

Haley said the state is not “throwing money at companies” to attract them.

“We don’t throw money at them because we don’t have the money to throw,” she said. “So what we said early on to the Department of Commerce was we will give them a site-ready place, meaning water, sewer, roads, everything so they will be able to build. And then we give them job credits and those job credits only after they have hired the person. That’s all we do in South Carolina. We don’t believe in throwing money at companies and, look, we are winning them anyway, so why do that.”

The governor said afterward that her administration started having the Department of Commerce pay performance incentives to its project managers for recruiting businesses that locate in rural counties.

“We started that when I first came into office,” Haley said. “Our project managers, they get more commission if they locate a company in a rural area than they do in an urban area. That is why you are seeing … we have announced almost 45,000 jobs, $11 billion invested in 45 out of 46 counties. So it has absolutely worked.”

“I know it’s made a difference” the governor said.

Haley said announced rural projects include Element Electronics with 500 jobs in Winnsboro and Louis Hornick and Co. with 125 jobs in Allendale County.

“It can’t just be your big cities,” Haley said. “It has to be all of South Carolina that’s lifted up.”

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