The sector of South Carolina’s economy that helps “deliver the goods” held a high-profile meeting in Columbia this week to remind state lawmakers and agency heads that their companies are bringing thousands of jobs to the state.
New Carolina, South Carolina’s Council on Competitiveness was a driving force behind the gathering, to support Transportation, Distribution and Logistics (TDL) as one of South Carolina’s 12 industry clusters.
One of the summit speakers, state Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt, told the attendees, “Manufacturing plants will not locate in South Carolina if they can’t move their goods.”
A legislative panel made up of Senators Larry Grooms, John Matthews, and Hugh Leatherman stressed the need to take advantage of Charleston having the only port expansion permit on the East Coast. They also called for I-26 improvements. Jim Newsome, CEO of the State Ports Authority also rallied the group around expansion of the port and its rail lines.
Rusty Reed of the SC Power Team helped organize the meeting. His organization represents Santee Cooper and the state’s 20 electric cooperatives as an economic development agency. The Power Team especially targets the logistics industry to help bring jobs to areas served by its rural cooperatives.
Reed says the TDL cluster’s message to legislators and agency directors is that their industry is critical to almost all other sectors.
He says that the summit was held to keep the industries and its advocates from becoming complacent when there are critical decisions in the next few years that affect them. That means, he says, the industries themselves taking a more active role in taking on these issues.
Companies like Amazon, Starbucks, QVC, and Walgreens have established major distribution centers in South Carolina.