Governor Henry McMaster swept into Laurens City Hall to deliver a stirring pep talk on Thursday, and while the notion that South Carolina is “paradise on earth” may give pause to the people of Hawaii, it played well to the Rotary Club.
That’s why McMaster said industries can’t wait to relocate here.
“It’s the best place in the world,” he said. “They could go anywhere and they’re coming to South Carolina.”
He spoke most notably of BMW in Greer, Boeing in North Charleston and Volvo in Ridgeville.
Afterwards, McMaster did express some concern, albeit mild, regarding the effect on foreign investment of the Trump Administration’s tariff policies.
The Republican governor, an early and ardent Trump supporter in the 2016 elections, said, “It depends. Some that have been proposed have not been implemented. Some that have been implemented have had no effect. Others have had some effects, negative effects. Others, I think, have had positive effects.
“My message to the president (as well as to others in the administration) has been that there are some things that would hurt South Carolina, and we have asked for exemptions or asked them not to impose them. We’ve had some success, but other times, we haven’t had success. We continue to make the case, at every opportunity, for what is best for the businesses and people of South Carolina.”
McMaster paid tribute to the late Ernest F. Hollings, who, while governor, began the state’s technical college system.
Today, he said, “Our technical colleges are fabulous. They have cooperation with our research universities, and it’s very appealing to industries. They like our mountains. They like our oceans, but the main reasons they’re coming here are people, people, people.”
Where the state needs work, the governor said, is in education before college or technical school, particularly at the rural level. He spoke of the Economic Development Closing program, which offers to provide water and sewer service, and upgrades to school buildings, to assist industries in locating to small towns and counties.
Such as, oh, Laurens.
“We have to focus our lens on education,” McMaster said.
The governor also addressed environmental concerns. He conceded that climate change is a threat to the state.
“Where there is disagreement is what’s causing [climate change], but there’s no doubt that the water levels (at the coast) are getting higher,” he said. “No doubt about that. … The question is what we’re going to do about it.
“My response, one part of it, is the creation of our Flood Water Commission … and we have people from different backgrounds, occupations and interests – from Ph.Ds to engineers and all sorts of people – attacking that question: what can we do? We are expecting to have some good proposals. I’ve also asked for the creation of a statewide water plan about our groundwater, and surface water, to make sure we have enough that is clean. These things, they all fit together. The environmental goals and the business goals are not in conflict. I see it as complementary. People want to go to a clean place with plenty of water.”
State Sen. Danny Verdin introduced the governor at the meeting. Among others present were Reps. Stewart Jones and Doug Gilliam, Laurens mayor Nathan Senn and quite a few other luminaries.