State Sen. Davis continues to tout Jasper Port at Beaufort County GOP gathering
Above: S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster discusses myriad topics Friday during his stop to speak to the Republicans of Sun City. Photos by Bob Sofaly.
By Mike McCombs
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster visited Beaufort County on Friday, Sept. 24, speaking to a packed pavilion at a Republicans of Sun City gathering.
The event, not on McMaster’s official calendar, was essentially a campaign rally a year ahead of the 2022 S.C. gubernatorial race.
McMaster attacked President Joe Biden’s leadership and touted the state’s success against COVID-19.
“Does anybody think that if Donald Trump was president, we’d be seeing what we’ve seen (In Afghanistan)?” McMaster asked the crowd.
“He’s been making some noise down there (in Florida), so he’s alive. Maybe we’ll see him again, who knows,” McMaster said of Trump, eliciting cheers from the crowd.
The Governor also attacked Biden’s vaccine mandate for larger businesses.
“Just the spectacle of the President saying we must get a vaccination,” McMaster said. “It’s unconstitutional.”
McMaster touted South Carolina’s “different approach” to the COVID-19 pandemic as successful, asking without Republican governors, “Where would we be now?”
“We’ve got more people working this year than last year and almost as many as the year before …,” McMaster said.
“We’re never going to choose … closing someone’s business is like taking someone’s property from them,” he added.
The Governor touted the state’s passage of a “heartbeat bill,” restricting abortions, and assured his supporters the state would never defund the police or teach Critical Race Theory.
SEN. DAVIS STILL RIDING HIGH ON JASPER PORT
State Senator Tom Davis of Beaufort, who introduced McMaster, also criticized President Biden and the “radical” Democrats – “Our DNA as a country is under attack” – but a substantial portion of his time in front of the microphone was spent discussing progress on the proposed Jasper Port.
Davis called the Jasper Port a success story in the making and said the area was going to move from the “Corridor of Shame” to the “Corridor of Opportunity.”
“… Once you have a definite timetable and the private sector knows it, you see investment coming in in anticipation of it,” Davis said. “We’re in a completely different situation now than when the S.C. Ports Authority was our representative. I think Jasper County stepping into their shoes has made all the difference in the world.”
Davis believes Jasper County will see the same kind of prosperity that Berkeley and Dorchester counties, adjacent to Charleston County, have realized.
“… Capital coming in. High-paying jobs following that, and people coming into the area as a result of those high-paying jobs. The tax base going up. The schools getting better. You’re going to see the health care system getting better. It’s going to be a sea change,” Davis said. “For so long those areas were rural backwaters, and nobody was paying any attention to them. Now, if you look at it, you’ve got access to an international airport, you’ve got direct access to an international port, you’re on an interstate, I-95, you’re in a beautiful part of the world where people want to live and have company headquarters, you’re near rail – CSX and Norfolk Southern – you’ve got everything in the world that you need for an explosion of economic growth, and that’s what’s going to happen.”
Davis said that while logistical infrastructure is still a concern, you’re already beginning to see development spill over to the Jasper County side of the Savannah River to support existing operations in Savannah, as they are already built out on the Georgia side.
“Before the Jasper Port even exists, you’re seeing that whole area being integrated into the Savannah economic sphere of influence,” Davis said. “That’s happening now.”
The original economic studies conducted more than 10 years ago in anticipation of the Jasper Port need to be updated, Davis said. He said a lot has changed in 10 years, and we need new projections using news timetables.
Davis said the only certainty with the development of the Jasper Port is there is going to be an explosion of growth in and around Jasper County. That explosion will not only create a lot of pressure on and force changes to the area’s infrastructure, it will also put a lot of pressure on the environment in the area.
“As we go about planning for this growth, we’ve got to take that into account. With buffers and areas that are not built on and by looking out for watersheds,” Davis said. “That’s one of the things that I think they didn’t do as well in Charleston. They just let the growth occur. We have a chance here to get it right. I’ve talked with Jasper County about that and it understands. With growth comes pressure n the roads system, pressure on land uses, maybe some pressure on the estuary system. We’ve got time to … hopefully avoid some of the things that have happened in Charleston.”
Davis said the results of the 2020 Census are likely to have a significant impact on Beaufort County, as far as redistricting goes.
“On the house side, we’re likely to have another house seat down in southern Beaufort County,” Davis said. “And southern Beaufort County is going to have enough people for its own senate district.”
Davis said northern Beaufort County is not likely to be combined with any part of southern Beaufort County. Instead, northern Beaufort County will likely be folded into Margie Bright Matthew’s district (Colleton) or Chip Campsen’s district (down from Charleston).
Mike McCombs is the editor of The Island News and can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com.