Rotarians hear about economic development from Brian Tucker

  • Thursday, April 10, 2014

Quality of life, low-cost energy, reasonable land prices, port access and proximity to Boeing operations are key economic development features in Georgetown County.

That was the message of Brian Tucker, the county’s director of the county’s economic development department, told the Rotary Club of Georgetown on Tuesday at the Lands End Restaurant.

Tucker said suitable development property can be purchased in this county for up to one-tenth of the cost of land in and around Charleston.

Tucker said offshore drilling is a “hot topic right now.” U.S. Sen. Tim Scott recently introduced the Southern Energy Access (SEA) Jobs Act for South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia.

Scott said the bill would include veteran and black college workforce training. It would reverse the Obama Administration’s moratorium on offshore energy production by beginning gas leasing in 2017 through a single “South Atlantic” energy plan.

Scott said states would have more control over offshore areas closest to their shoreline to help protect coastal sight lines by prohibiting visible drilling platforms up to 20 miles from the shoreline.

Scott said drilling would be in the Outer Continental Shelf.

“Enacting the SEA Jobs Act could potentially create more than 280,000 jobs and add $24 billion to the economy,” he said. “In South Carolina alone, this legislation could create more than 35,000 new jobs.”

Scott said the SEA Jobs Act also is written to lessen foreign energy dependence and spur education, health services and pension coverage.

Tucker said one million people a year come into Georgetown County.

“We need to let these visitors know we wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world,” Tucker said. “There are a ton of opportunities out there we can pursue successfully with what we have now.”

He talked about businesses already thriving, such as AgruAmerica, International Paper, SafeRack and Mercom.

“We’re working to help these businesses grow,” he said. “Recently we hosted state development people on a tour of four different businesses here. The visitors said they were surprised at the level of technology used in the production of local products.”

Tucker believes Georgetown County is positioned to become a leader in the state for attracting businesses that create 200 to 250 jobs and offer good wages and benefits for trained workers. He also said a 6,000-foot small business incubator is being considered for the county’s Litchfield Exchange property.

Tucker said he’d like to see construction improvements continue on U.S. Highway 521, beyond Andrews into Williamsburg County through Greeleyville, eventually linking to I-95 near Manning in Clarendon County.

Rotarian Bill Crowther, executive director of Alliance Economic Development for Georgetown County, said this four-lane expansion would provide easier access for trucking routes to all major interstates (I-26, I-95 and I-20) and directly benefit job growth for Georgetown, Williamsburg, Clarendon and Orangeburg counties.

“There seems to be a renewed spirit of teamwork with some new players and new leadership, and I think we are well positioned to partner with the Alliance in Georgetown County and in Horry County, the North Eastern Strategic Alliance, a nine-county organization in northeast South Carolina,” Tucker said. “We also are working with Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments for Georgetown, Horry and Williamsburg counties.”

Tucker’s staff provides both assistance programs and expansion services, including a simplified “one-stop shop” for local permitting and code requirements.

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