Business Leaders at State House: ‘Our Roads Must Be Fixed in 2017’
February 21, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Leaders representing statewide businesses and industries held a press conference today to announce their support for H.3516 – the House Road Funding Bill. Additionally, the South Carolina Roads Coalition announced that it was sending a letter to legislators commending the House for moving forward with a road plan and urging House members to vote yes on H.3516.
Rick Todd, President and CEO of the South Carolina Trucking Association, speaking on behalf of the South Carolina Roads Coalition said, “We’ve come together today with hope, belief, and optimism that 2017 might finally be the year that we secure significant, recurring, and dedicated funds to fix and improve South Carolina’s highway infrastructure.”
Todd continued, “This is an issue that impacts the quality of life, safety and enhanced economic prosperity for all South Carolinians.”
Pete Selleck, President of Michelin North America, speaking on behalf of the SC Chamber of Commerce said that 2017 is the year the General Assembly must finish the job on infrastructure.
“We’ve seen the situation only get worse, and we really do believe at this point we’re at the end of the road,” said Selleck. “If we do not come up with a solid plan this year that is sufficient and sustainable over the long term, we believe that going forward, it’s going to do significant damage to this state.”
Roger Schrum of Sonoco estimated that South Carolina’s poor infrastructure costs his company about $5 million annually.
Schrum said, “Every day, Sonoco sends out about 225 trucks to South Carolina roads and… we are the state’s 5th largest user of the State Port out of Charleston. We know the condition of South Carolina roads and bridges. To be blunt: they’re extremely poor.”
Ronnie Summers of the Palmetto Agribusiness Council said that in South Carolina, Agribusiness represents an annual economic impact of $42B and employs over 200,000 of our citizens.
Summers explained, “Infrastructure is critical to the success and growth of this industry, and legislation needs to be approved this year to provide for a long-term solution to our state’s roads and bridges.”
“South Carolina’s success in attracting jobs and capital investment is dependent upon having quality roads in South Carolina,” said Andrena Powell-Baker, Board Member, SC Economic Developers’ Association. “It is essential that our state’s leaders find a long-term, sustainable solution.”
Tiffany Wright of AAA of the Carolinas said in a prepared statement, “While today we’ve focused on the economic impact of our infrastructure – we must also not forget that because of our roads, South Carolina has the highest fatality rate in the country.”
Wright continued, “In 2016, the state had over 6,000 crashes resulting in death or serious injury.”
Rick Todd concluded the press conference by reiterating the coalition’s support for the House Bill, H.3516.
“We do all this not as special interest groups, but as good responsible citizens of South Carolina who have come confidently to the conclusion that a stable, long-term funding solution for our road system is desperately needed – and relatively simple,” said Rick Todd.
Todd concluded, “The House Bill is the road before us, and the one we need to take.”
Groups and organizations participating in the event included:
- Mr. Pete Selleck, President Michelin North America, on behalf of the SC Chamber
- Mrs. Lou Kennedy, CEO Nephron Pharmaceuticals, on behalf of the SC Chamber
- Ms. Andrena Powell-Baker, Board Member, SC Economic Developers' Association
- Mr. Ronnie Summers, President CEO Palmetto Agribusiness Council
- Mr. Ronnie Cooper, President BW Mitchum, Chairman SC Trucking Association
- Mr. Patrick Barber, President CEO Superior Transportation, Immediate Past Chair SC Maritime Association
- Mr. Roger Schrum, VP, Investor Relations and Corporate Affairs, Sonoco, Past Chairman SC Manufacturers Alliance
- Mr. Marty McKee, VP, King Asphalt, Chairman Carolinas Associated General Contractors.