The House of Representatives returned from its scheduled furlough (and winter storm) week to a massive influx of great economic news.
We didn’t spent much time on the House floor in full session this week since the state budget is being debated by the full House Ways and Means Committee. We needed to give them, and the other House committees, time to complete this important work.
The Criminal Laws subcommittee that I serve on passed the bond bill to the full House Judiciary Committee that meets next week. This bond reform addresses the issues of those who are currently out on bond and commit another crime by making it harder for a repeat offender to be released on bond.
Big Jobs Announcement
Tuesday, we were greeted with the announcement of a $1 Billion investment and 500 jobs created by Toray Industries in Moore. Toray produces high-quality carbon fiber materials for the aeronautics and energy industries. The company said it liked our proximity to emerging markets in Latin America.
Local officials told the media this week that they hope Toray’s impact will be similar to BMW’s initial announcement in the Upstate — $420 million and 1,000 jobs. BMW’s footprint in our state has expanded radically since then with more than 4,000 people working at the plant in Greer. One official expected Toray to “under-promise and over-deliver.” I hope that comes true.
Toray is simply the latest in a long line of major manufacturing announcements that validate our efforts to create a strong business climate in our state. We must compete not only with Georgia and North Carolina, but Toray’s announcement shows that we are competing for jobs against sites all across the world. I think our state is a pretty good place to live, work, and play.
Esurance, the auto insurer, also announced the creation of 450 jobs in Mauldin this week, bringing the Upstate’s total to nearly 1,000 in just three days. That’s a great week!
The economic news announced during last week’s winter storm was also significant. The International Trade Administration announced that South Carolina merchandise exports increased 4 percent in 2013 to a record of $26.1 billion in goods sold to 202 countries. We helped the United States reach an all-time high for exports of our goods and services.
The exports report came immediately after another announcement that we had a record year in new investment by companies locating or expanding in our state. In 2013, we recruited $5.4 billion in capital investment. That translates directly into jobs, higher salaries, and economic growth for our state.
Two final notes
It was a privilege this week to give the Medal of Valor to two Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office deputies — Cpl. Marc Miller and Sgt. Barry Pridgeon. It is almost a cliche when we honor first responders for putting their lives on the line when they insist they’re “just doing their job,” but we need to recognize these public servants for keeping our community safe. Thank you.
Finally, many of you saw the report from Pickens County about the woman who was arrested on a nearly decade old warrant for not returning a VHS video tape – despite the fact that the law isn’t even on the books any longer. The chairmen of both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees said it is time to look about how to clean up warrants in situations like these. I look forward to joining my chairman in finding a solution so this type of thing doesn’t happen again.