Future Infrastructure Plans Key to Future of Grand Strand Hospitality and Tourism Industry
Posted on: March 16, 2014
Recently debate has been stirring in Columbia about the current recommendations on a major change in the South Carolina government structure, often referred to as the “Administration Bill.” This effort, supported by Gov. Nikki Haley, would make a number of changes that ultimately give more power/control to the executive branch. One of the provisions in the governor’s Administration Bill would essentially eliminate the SCDOT commission and transfer the power to decide funding priorities for roads/highways/bridges/etc. to the governor’s office.
So why should the Grand Strand and the hospitality industry be concerned? Historically the Grand Strand and Pee Dee regions have collectively been left holding the bag when it comes to current and future infrastructure needs while other areas of the state continue to bask in building, updating and upgrading their overall infrastructure at the expense of our community.
The future of Hospitality and Tourism, the lifeblood of our community and the number one industry in the state of South Carolina, depends on growing our infrastructure while bringing new dollars into our collective community through new visitors to the area. We need, and frankly must have, I-73 and other infrastructure investments in our region to enhance our tourism base, diversify our economy and open up sectors of economic development and job growth.
While we appreciate the current administration and the Legislatures’ effort to look at more effective management of state government, the current plan to eliminate the SCDOT commission and all of its hard work would make the infrastructure plan for our state largely a political football that could shift-and-change at the whim of any administration. At best, our state’s infrastructure long-term plan would last no more than the 4-year term of any future governor. Whether or not you agree with giving the governor’s office more power is one thing, but eliminating the SCDOT commission without a viable plan to advance South Carolina’s transportation infrastructure needs would severely impede the future growth of the $6.5 billion dollar Grand Strand tourism economy.
A great example of what could come if the commission is eliminated is a separate bill that has already passed a House committee that would require every DOT expenditure of $20 million or more to pass the House. This would start a trend that would make transportation funding far more political than it currently is today. That’s bad news for areas like the Grand Strand where we will always be challenged to amass the votes we need to make our needs Columbia’s priorities. We sincerely appreciate the recognition by the administration and our legislators’ that tourism growth is a key reason the future economic prosperity of South Carolina looks bright. Let’s not take a step back and risk all of our futures by politicizing our infrastructure needs.