I know what it takes for business to survive and thrive in South Carolina. As an experienced businesswoman, bringing more jobs to South Carolina is my number one priority. As a wife, mother and a grandmother, I am deeply concerned about the need to create economic opportunities for our children and grandchildren.
I’ve helped bring thousands of jobs to the Charleston area through Clemson’s Restoration Institute, the world’s largest wind turbine testing facility. This facility is providing good-paying, high quality jobs, and related manufacturing businesses are now lining up to come here to provide thousands more.
The country is moving forward on the road to recovery. The economy is no longer in free fall. Financial and housing markets have stabilized and positive job growth is returning. Here in South Carolina, the unemployment rate has dropped to 8.4 percent from a high of 12 percent in 2009. But we still have a long way to go.
Unemployment is still too high nationally and we are not creating jobs fast enough to make up for the 7.9 million we lost in the Great Recession. Our state’s unemployment level remains higher than the national average, and is much worse in rural areas. This is unacceptable.
And, just as the country begins to show real signs of economic improvement, we are faced with the mindless across the board cuts of the “sequester” that threaten the nation’s and South Carolina’s fragile recovery. While the national impact of the cuts remains unclear, we know that South Carolina and the 1st District will be hit especially hard.
South Carolina’s eight major military bases contribute almost $16 billion annually to the state’s economy. The 11,000 Department of Defense workers statewide will likely face furloughs, removing close to $60 million in gross pay from the state’s economy. The Charleston region could be hit hardest, affecting the large Department of Defense civilian workforce based in and around North Charleston. In Northern Beaufort County, over 8,400 military and civilian personnel are employed by the three military installations. With a total economic impact of more than $1.4 billion on the local economy, the military is a major force in that region.
Economic growth and job creation are my top priority beginning with the immediate threat that we face from the sequestration. I will work hard to make sure that our country’s readiness is not compromised and that political extremism and self-interest don’t continue to stand in the way of rational debate and real solutions for fiscal responsibility. I will work towards a long-term budget deal that gets the nation on track for economic growth—and that ends the constant state of crisis and bickering in Washington.
New job growth through capital-intensive manufacturing provides great opportunities, but we cannot rely on large businesses alone for our economic recovery. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy—particularly here in South Carolina where they account for approximately 50 percent of private sector jobs and make up over 97 percent of the state employers.
We need to provide our entrepreneurs and innovators opportunities to succeed. I support providing small businesses with tax breaks and better access to credit that will spur job creation.
In January Congress and the President extended several small business tax incentives designed to boost capital investment and innovation and expand hiring. When I am in Congress I will fight to ensure that these tax breaks continue and that small business will not see their tax rates go up.
I support investing in a clean-energy economy. Here in the 1st District, alternative energy provides good jobs with salaries above the national average. The market is growing—projections estimate that the wind industry alone will add an additional 20,000 jobs, $2 billion in wages and $600 billion in state and local revenue in the next two decades.
Rebuilding our antiquated system of roads, bridges and ports is a huge opportunity to create millions of jobs. Moving and delivering information, goods, and resources faster and more efficiently is critical to our future economic success. I agree with the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce that we jeopardize business competitiveness if we continue to ignore our crumbling system. I will work to forge partnerships that encourage private investment in infrastructure that takes the burden off taxpayers.
We need well-trained, technically skilled workers for businesses to grow and be competitive here in the 1st District and the across the nation. I am committed to establishing the world’s finest system of education— from pre-kindergarten to post-graduate and workforce training—with particular emphasis on literacy, science, technology, engineering and math.
In the past few decades, our middle class has seen the slowest growth in wages and rising incomes since the Great Depression. I am committed to rebuilding and revitalizing the middle class through a fairer tax system. I will work to eliminate wasteful tax loopholes that benefit highly profitable corporations and speculators at the expense of small business and the middle class. I am committed to keeping middle classes taxes low.
Some 85 percent of South Carolina businesses depend on the Port of Charleston. As the first woman chair of the Maritime Association of South Carolina, I recognize the importance of leadership in Washington to protect and preserve this vital economic resource.