Monday, August 31, 2009

It's not a joke: Good jobs are coming back

Bluffton Today

I want to thank all the many of you who supported me and my family with your kind wishes and prayers during the passing of my father. While his death was not unexpected, the finality of losing a parent is something of a shock.

I was also somewhat unprepared for the tremendous outpouring of sympathy and condolence from not only our Lowcountry and Columbia friends, but from around the state, as well. Together, we were privileged to celebrate the life of a good man who loved his wife, took care of his family, fought hard for his country, and always did his best to make his place in the world better than he found it. We are grateful and will not forget.

Today at 10 a.m., the Beaufort County Legislative Delegation will meet in Beaufort. My friend, Weston Newton, chairman of County Council, has graciously invited us to make use of council chambers for our meeting. At the present time, we are scheduled to hear from my friend Joe Harden, chairman of the South Carolina Highway Commission, as well as Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka and Acting Bluffton Town Manager Mark Orlando.

Much of last week, I was in Myrtle Beach for not only the Republican Caucus meeting but the Coastal Caucus as well. We have a special session coming up in October and there are quite a number of matters that need sorting out. Unfortunately, I was the only member of the delegation that could attend for the full event. I was, however, in touch with Rep. Shannon Erickson, the other effective member of our House delegation.

A few weeks ago, I made some bold statements in this column about our part of the Lowcountry leading the state out of recession. I referenced the new businesses opening in the Old Town as examples of an improved economic environment that was likely to be a bellwether for the region and the state.

The statements did not pass without notice or comment, mostly skeptical, from several of you who emailed to question my motives and my sanity. I’m happy to report that two weeks after my predictions, the feds essentially confirmed my speculations at the national level. Now, we have new numbers from the state employment security folks reporting a significant improvement in state and local employment. It’s not a great number, but it is a better number.

Also, just within the last few days, the Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Chamber of Commerce reports that occupancy figures around the county are improving, as are a whole host of metrics they follow.

People are finding those good jobs. Entrepreneurs are creating jobs. They may not be dream jobs in every case, but they may be two jobs removed from that dream job. Right now, Rea Construction, from Beaufort, has more than twenty people resurfacing the roads out in Moss Creek. A paycheck is so much better on so many levels than an unemployment check.

Friends, when I go to these meetings or conferences, the one thing at the top of my mind is jobs. How can I make my state, or my county, or my district, so attractive to good companies, they will just have to locate here? This, of course, involves sensible tax policy, fair and understandable regulation, good schools, and a clean and healthy environment among the many things that are important to the type of businesses we want to attract.

Good jobs make for strong families. My dad taught me that. He didn’t simply tell me, he showed me. He lived it.