Gov. Henry McMaster said “South Carolina is primed to really accelerate our economy” as the state recovers from the COVID crisis.
McMaster spoke at the Greater Cayce West Columbia Chamber of Commerce’s Breakfast, Tuesday. It was held at Stone River adjacent to the West Columbia Riverwalk.
Also attending were: Lexington County Councilwoman Deb Summers; West Columbia Mayor Tem Miles; West Columbia Councilman Mike Green; and CWC Chamber President and CEO Tim James, with CWC Board President Haley Bowers.
McMaster said some states closed down everything to halt the spread of the COVID virus, but, he said, South Carolina took a different approach.
“We did not close down all business,” said McMaster. He said small business is the essence of business in the state and after looking at the science, the state closed locations where there were high levels of personal contact.
McMaster said the state approved the NASCAR race in Darlington along with the Professional Golf Association’s Heritage event. And requirements have been lessened.
McMaster also said the amount of COVID vaccine will increase and more segments of the population will get the vaccine as age requirements are lowered.
“It’s going to get better,” he said.
McMaster also said the state has made major investments in cyber technology and tourism and that has positioned it well.
“We have the opportunity to excel in a new prosperity,” he said.
McMaster also touted the state’s technical college system as the best in the country. And he said he is working to help ensure all children in the state have access to -four-year-old kindergarten.
In response to a question from West Columbia real estate company Owner Ted McGee, regarding teachers and the vaccine, McMaster said elderly people should get the COVID vaccine before young, healthy people. McMaster said data indicates that the spread of the virus from students to teachers is rare, so teachers will not be moved up in the line of vaccine eligibility. Those age 18-years-old and younger have little risk, too, he said.
McMaster said all vaccine makers are increasing productivity and that will provide enough vaccine to include all who want it.
In response to a question about road conditions, from Chuck McCurry from The Lexington Chronicle, McMaster said the SC Department of Transportation is playing catch-up to repair the state’s secondary roads using gas tax funds. He said contractors were not lined up when the money became available, but infrastructure, including roads, are a tool used to recruit new business for the state.
Miles invited McMaster to West Columbia in the summer for a tube ride on the Congaree after Michael Mayo of Carolina Outdoors stressed the importance of tourism and the river to the governor.
Brad Giles asked McMaster about lifting 11 p.m. closing restriction on bars. McMaster said he hopes those limits are lifted soon.
Green asked if federal aid for private and Christian schools would be allocated federal funds after the SC Supreme Court blocked the funds. McMaster said he is working to get the money to those students, on a needs basis, via the US Congress.