At the 2010 Industry Appreciation Luncheon in Dorchester County, leaders welcomed Boeing's landing in the Charleston region.
At the 2011 luncheon, Gov. Nikki Haley said the ensuing fight between Boeing and the National Labor Relations Board due to the state's right-to-work status has helped push the state to the national forefront, increasing interest from companies around the nation.
"It's gotten way more attention than we ever thought it would," Haley said. "What should make you really proud is that we have Michelin, we have Boeing, we have BMW, we have Bridgestone, and we have no unions … We have one of the lowest participation rates in a union in the country. And that is getting attention. And the more I get on TV and the more I fight against the NLRB, the more companies start calling."
That fight is one of three keys to Haley's vision of economic development in the state — nestled side-by-side with workforce development and infrastructure, and resting on a single tenet.
"The number one goal is we have to make sure that the cost of business is low," Haley said.
According to the governor, infrastructure (specifically the port) and workforce training, which like the fight with the NLRB are works in progress, also draw companies to the state by keeping costs low.
Haley addressed nearly 300 people gathered on Friday at in Summerville, a gathering nodding to the town's, Dorchester County's and region's commitment to existing and new companies during the annual Industry Appreciation Luncheon, hosted by the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce.
Despite the state landing more than 13,000 jobs since January, unemployment in the state is still on the rise. In August, the state's unemployment rose from 10.9 percent in July to 11.1 percent, according to the state's Department of Employment and Workforce.
"We have companies that need employees and people who need jobs. The only way to bridge that gap is job training," Haley said. "We have to make sure we have a workforce that's ready … We're already doing some training but we're seeing that our resources aren't going directly to training the way they should."
This month, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded a $20 million grant to South Carolina for workforce development.
According to the Independent Mail, the grant will set up a network of training and career centers 10 of the state's technical colleges over the next three years.
While the effort to get training for the state's workforce has statewide attention and the fight with the NLRB has national attention, it's Charleston's port that has received international attention, especially with a depressed dollar, Haley said.
"I'm working very closely with the federal delegation (to secure port dredging funding)," Haley said. She added that with the depressed dollar, more international companies have eyed the state and its port.
Haley said cleaning house at state-run agencies like Department of Health and Environmental Control and putting business leaders at the helm also helps keep the cost of business low in South Carolina.
"Time is money," she said. "If you're costing a business time, you're costing them money."
Haley's also working to craft the state's image. Announced earlier this week, state employees will answer the phone "It's a great day in South Carolina; how may I help you?"
"I'm proud of our state and I want everyone else to be proud about our state," Haley said, adding that you never know who's listening. It could be a big company executive, or a person considering buying a vacation home. Not to mention, state employees are there to help.
"The person calling is who they work for … It's a small thing that makes a big difference."
The governor kicks off her town hall tour of the state next week. .