SC Gov. Haley touts state to 4k Wal-Mart supplier reps

Haley also praises retailer’s efforts to increase domestic spending

ashain@thestate.comMarch 7, 2013 

State of The State

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley


— Gov. Nikki Haley spoke Thursday in Orlando, Fla., to 4,000 representatives of companies that supply Wal-Mart, pitching the retailer’s push to buy more domestic goods and South Carolina’s efforts to boost economic development.

Haley, who has made job creation the top priority of her administration, also met with representatives of about 30 suppliers either individually or in small groups, her office said.

Haley was asked to speak at the annual event by Wal-Mart’s U.S. chief executive, Bill Simon, two weeks ago, while she was at governors’ associations meetings in Washington, D.C., her office said.

“She has been such a leader in the areas of growing manufacturing jobs in her state,” Wal-Mart spokesman Dave Tovar said of Haley. “She’s a great ambassador to talk about this business.”

Haley was the only non-Wal-Mart official to talk to suppliers, which included Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Kraft.

A transcript of the governor’s remarks was not available, but Tovar said Haley talked about Wal-Mart’s effort to increase its domestic spending by $50 billion over the next decade and promoted economic opportunities in South Carolina.

“She got to talk about South Carolina,” Tovar said.

Haley and Simon have a relationship that dates back to the early days of her administration, when Simon came to the S.C. Farmers Market in Cayce in 2011 to announce Wal-Mart would open dozens of stores statewide with 4,000 jobs and an investment of $400 million by 2016.

The visit came amid the controversy over a sales-tax collection exemption offered to to open a Lexington County distribution center. Wal-Mart and Haley opposed the incentive, which the online retailer received after a vote by state lawmakers.

Simon has kept in touch with Haley since then and has been impressed by her economic-development efforts, Tovar said.

The Wal-Mart boss mentioned how he worked with Haley and other governors when he unveiled Wal-Mart’s plans to spend more domestically during a speech to the National Retail Federation in January.

“We, like her, are very committed to job growth,” Tovar said.

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