Politics & Government

March 21, 2014

SC Gov. Haley touts growth, rails against unions in Hilton Head speech (+video)

Hitting familiar themes likely to be featured in her re-election campaign this year, Gov. Nikki Haley touted the state’s economic progress in her first term and railed against unions during a speech Thursday on Hilton Head Island.

Haley told a crowd of state business leaders that she has overseen the creation of more than 44,000 jobs and more than $11 billion in capital investments.

She cited the production of the 787 Dreamliner at the Boeing manufacturing plant in North Charleston and the recently opened Continental Tire factory in Sumter as examples of growth.

“We’ve done so well that we’re running out of inventory,” she told an audience of about 200 at The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa. “Where are we going to put these businesses?”

Her speech kicked off the two-day business retreat at the resort. It’s sponsored by the S.C. Power Team, a coalition of Santee Cooper and the state’s electric cooperatives, including Lowcountry-based Palmetto Electric Cooperative.

Haley has plugged her economic-development record recently as she begins to campaign against state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, the expected Democratic challenger for governor.

Haley beat Sheheen four years ago by 60,000 votes, a margin of 4.4 percent.

In Thursday’s speech, she said she wants to attract information-technology firms, call centers and engineering companies to the state, especially to rural counties.

“We need to sell our rural counties as much as our cities,” she said.

When negotiating with prospective businesses, Haley said, she makes one thing clear to ease the minds of out-of-state executives: No unions allowed.

“I think they are job-killers,” she said. “If you bring a company to South Carolina, I’ve got your back. I’m not letting (unions) in.”

Haley spoke for about 15 minutes. She did not take questions from the media after her talk.

The retreat will close today Friday with a forecast of the state’s economy in 2014 by Bruce Yandle, a dean at Clemson University, and Raymond Owens, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Va.


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