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Gov. Sanford Signs Economic Development Competitiveness Act

Press Release

Location: Columbia, SC

Gov. Mark Sanford today joined Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell, Commerce Secretary Joe Taylor and other economic development advocates to sign H.4478, a bill aimed at enhancing South Carolina's ability to attract jobs and investment and compete in an increasingly global marketplace. The bill takes several positive steps, including:

* Reforming the Endowed Chairs program to help shift its focus to job creation and allow private sector investment to lead public sector investment;
Removing the scores of special jobs tax credits that have been legislated over the years, making the state's credits based purely on economic criteria;
Providing relief to manufacturing property taxpayers, who currently pay the highest rate in the nation;
Broadening and modernizing the outdated Economic Impact Zone provisions, enacted in 1995 in response to federal base closures;
And requiring greater transparency in the reporting process for utility tax credits.

"This bill is a significant step in the right direction," Gov. Sanford said. "For the last seven and a half years this administration has sought to move the state away from what has been a "government knows best' model of economic development, whereby government is unwisely expected to lead the way in attracting - or indeed generating - private investment. This bill represents a noteworthy change from that approach by reforming the state's economic development tools in a way that recognizes the folly of trying to "steer' the market or guess the direction it may take in the future. Specifically, this bill will cut tax rates for many industrial buildings - putting them on par from a property tax standpoint with other manufacturers in order to level the playing field and increase competitiveness. The legislation also dismantles a piecemeal tax credit that only benefited certain counties - a practice we've long considered unfair. As well, this bill depoliticizes the way counties are designated as "worse off' or "better off' economically - which effectively stifled economic development across the state. In fact, important pieces of this legislation mirror recommendations from a Department of Commerce study on state incentives done in early 2007. For these and a number of other overdue changes, I'd thank Speaker Bobby Harrell for his leadership in getting this bill through the House, as well as Commerce Secretary Joe Taylor for his work in advocating a better bill."

"This bill is a major step for South Carolina as we will now see our business recruitment and expansion programs based exclusively on economic criteria rather than politics," Secretary Joe Taylor said. "Outdated programs that were only available for some areas have been modernized and will now be available statewide. This bill does not pick winners and losers but instead levels the playing field for companies who are looking at South Carolina to locate or expand their operations. I especially want to thank the Speaker and many Senators who saw the positive outcome of this bill and worked so hard to get it passed."

H.4478 comes on the heels of an impressive number of economic development successes in South Carolina. Over the last several months there have been five 1,000-plus jobs announcements, and last year South Carolina led the entire Southeast in job recruitment

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