Located in the northeast corner of South Carolina, the North Eastern Strategic Alliance (NESA) is the central point of contact for businesses interested in locating or expanding in the nine county region which includes Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Marion, Marlboro, and Williamsburg Counties. NESA Executive Director Jeff Mckay says May 21 was a great day for the region when the news broke that the South Carolina Department of Transportation approved funding for the purchase of the land for the state’s portion of the I-73 corridor. Mckay says even though the project is still years away, securing funding for the land is a great step toward the rapidly growing region fully realizing its great potential.
“We’ve got to have a way to efficiently move those folks around that are living there. Also, you have to keep in mind that we have 14 million people annually that are traveling into Myrtle Beach and we have to have a way to get those folks in there also.”
Mckay says the region boasts a population of nearly 700,000 and is growing exponentially as more and more people are moving to the area.
Mckay says there is no doubt that interstate access would make the area more attractive to industry as well as tourists. “As we travel around the nation and talk to companies, site location consultants, industrial brokers and realtors we carry a good message from a cost standpoint and they know we’re a good place to do business. But we have to continue to prepare our infrastructure and make our region capable of handling the growth we think is going to occur.”
According to a study conducted by Coastal Carolina University research economist Don Schunk construction on the I-73 corridor will create more than 7,500 jobs throughout the ten years the project takes to complete.
Mckay says, when completed, I-73 will be of great assistance to the region in terms of safety if a hurricane evacuation is warranted. “God forbid we have an issue like that to occur, but if we do, I-73 is definitely an opportunity to have a better evacuation route that helps from a safety standpoint not only for the coastal areas, but to those counties to the inland as well.
When completed, Interstate 73 will stretch from Michigan to Myrtle Beach.