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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. 

Representatives Nathan Ballentine (R-Richland); Sylleste Davis (R-Berkeley); Lee Hewitt (R-Georgetown); Kimberly Johnson (D-Clarendon); Roger Kirby (D - Florence); Steven Long (R-Spartanburg); Brandon Newton (R-Lancaster); Russell Ott (D-Calhoun); Mark Smith (R-Berkeley); Leon Stavrinakis (D-Charleston); and Deon Tedder (D-Charleston) serve on the committee. 
2022 has been a winning year for South Carolina's infrastructure. Ensuring favorable policies and sustainable funding mechanisms continue to deliver for our roads and bridges must be a team effort! 

Make plans to join us for our 2022 Annual Meeting. This annual event offers an afternoon of education and networking. Our agenda continues to be fine-tuned and we have already confirmed many great speakers and continue to extend invitations. Space is limited so register early! Sponsorship and registration details are linked below. 

Questions? Please contact Jennifer Patterson at jennifer@scfor.org or (803) 417-6256. 
Register Now!

Business Groups Working to Educate Voters on Upcoming Lexington County Penny Referendum

Vote YES for Roads is an initiative of several Lexington County Chambers, civic organizations, businesses, and community leaders who believe now is the time to improve Lexington County roads. The group's mission is to encourage voters to 'Vote YES' to the penny sales tax referendum that will be on the ballot in Lexington County on November 8. Follow, like and share their Facebook and Instagram pages

The coalition is led by the Lexington Chamber, Batesburg-Leesville Chamber, Cayce West Columbia Chamber, and the Irmo Chamber and includes the Lexington County Development Corporation, 1Voice Lexington County, and others.

"One of the top complaints of Lexington County residents is the condition of our roads and congestion. The proposed Capital Project Sales Tax provides a solution to these issues," said Angelle LaBorde, Lexington Chamber President and CEO. "This is the best solution to raise funds without raising property taxes. If not now, when?" she said.

According to Lexington County, the Capital Project Sales Tax would raise $536 million over eight years. The penny increase will not apply to groceries, gas, or prescriptions, and it is estimated that approximately 20 – 40% of the funds will be contributed by non-residents.

For a complete list of projects, visit lexingtoncountycpst.com.

Dorchester Coalition Working to Educate Voters on Penny Renewal

Dorchester County Council has placed a referendum on the November 8 ballot to continue the existing one-cent sales tax dedicated to roads. This new initiative would be a continuation when the current penny retires in 2024. 

​Dorchester County voters passed the current penny tax in 2004, and the county has built, re-paved, and fixed more than 20 road projects. The new proposal would span 15 years and is estimated to raise $735 million. Of those dollars, $700 million will go towards transportation projects and $35 million to Greenbelt projects. 

Dorchester Citizens for Responsible Growth supports the measure and is working to educate voters. Follow, like, and share their Facebook page. 

"We have assembled a broad coalition of folks who understand the most important issues facing our county are fixing our roads and preserving green space. This includes retirees to commuters, business owners to conservationists, and community leaders from every community in Dorchester County. We are all uniting around the common purpose of improving the quality of life of the county we love," said Tony Pope, chairman of the Dorchester Citizens for Responsible Growth.

To learn more about the group's campaign and projects, visit www.VoteYesDorchester.com.

SCFOR Executive Director, Jennifer Patterson, had the privilege of speaking to the Spring Valley Rotary Club on September 29. We talked about potholes, traffic, how new federal and state dollars are being used, and the importance of maintaining the buying power of our dedicated funding streams. Thank you to the Rotarians for their warm welcome and genuine interest in such an important issue!
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