RIDGEWAY — Gov. Nikki Haley delivered an economic update Thursday night while attending the Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce annual banquet at the Farm in Ridgeway.
In 2011, the unemployment rate in South Carolina was 11.1 percent and has been reduced to 5.3 percent, according to the most recent statistics that were announced by Haley.
“We have one of the fastest growing economies in the country and the fastest on the east coast,” she said.
Haley noted that every county in the state is involved in work force training and the building of infrastructure. She believes that the most recent accomplishments are just the beginning with much more to come.
“We’re the only state in the country that has already put our money aside ($300 million in savings) to deepen the port of Charleston when the feds give us the green light,” Haley noted. “We want to tell the rest of the world that product to market matters. Those are the signals that we’re sending out that are allowing these companies to come in.”
According to Haley, the state department has taken over 20,000 people off welfare during the past three years and she emphasized one key fact as the main catalyst to improve those numbers.
“All we did is tell our agencies that their focus was not to give them a check, your focus is to find them a job,” she stated. “As we do that, we are establishing the American Dream in South Carolina.”
Haley’s office began searching for ways to bring economic development and business back to South Carolina in 2011 following an economic depression.
Bridgestone, Michelin and Continental make South Carolina one of the top tire producing states in the nation.
“The best part about it is that GT Tires brought in 1,700 jobs to Chester,” she noted at the most recent accomplishment.
Haley stated that her office focuses on rural business to lift up all of South Carolina, which now is home to Boeing and has the number one producing plant for BMWs in the world.
“Every area of South Carolina is feeling the effect and what it’s like to have a job again,” Haley said.
She also pointed out Element Electronics moving into the former Perry Ellis building on the U.S. 321 Bypass in Winnsboro. Element has already hired approximately 200 employees, with 88 percent of the hires coming from Fairfield County, and a plan to bring a total of 500 jobs.
According to Haley, 56,000 jobs have been announced in 45 of South Carolina’s 46 counties.
Attending a Chamber of Commerce banquet in a rural town like Ridgeway reminded Haley of time spent in her hometown.
“This is my treat because when you come from a small town like Bamberg it’s like coming home,” she said. “This is what you know and this is where your comfort is. There is something about rural communities in that it is like an extended family. Chamber events are the big events and everybody takes care of each other and I am pleased to be here.”