House Committee Talks Economic Development & Utility Modernization
Last week, the new SC House Economic Development and Utility Modernization Committee held its first meeting. Speaker Murrell Smith (R-Sumter) created the Ad-hoc Committee, which is chaired by Rep Jay West (R-Anderson), to assess utility modernization, workforce development, and necessary infrastructure aimed to attract industry.
Speaker Smith believes the state needs to be prepared to attract transformative industries as the economy evolves.
"We need to prepare ourselves for the next generation of industry," said Smith as he addressed the committee. He tasked the committee with generating ideas and setting the stage for economic growth and future success.
Speaker Smith touted the legislature's continued investments in roads and the Port. He told the committee that the legislature needed to keep their eye on infrastructure, work to diversify energy sources, address tax reforms (including the dreaded Act 388), and foster workforce development.
Following Speaker Smith's opening remarks, the committee heard testimony from SC Secretary of Commerce Harry Lightsey and many utilities, including the Electric Cooperatives of SC, Dominion, Santee Cooper, and Duke. Utilities focused on how they worked to ensure that energy infrastructure kept up with demand, the role the utilities play in economic development projects, and how large industrial projects impact ratepayers.
Committee Chairman Jay West (R-Anderson) said that the committee plans to work to gather ideas throughout this process to implement favorable policies to move the state forward. The committee plans to meet again in the coming weeks.