Gov. Nikki Haley is hopeful her 10-day trip to India, the world’s second-most populous nation, will bring jobs and tourists to South Carolina.
“Without question, I know that we will be closing jobs over the next several months,” Haley said Wednesday, speaking by phone from Mumbai. “This is, certainly, a trip where I know we’re going to produce.”
Haley did not offer any specific recruitment targets. The Republican governor said she is working on wooing pharmaceutical and agriculture firms and manufacturers that see opportunities to invest in the United States.
“We’re trying to turn them to South Carolina, and they like what they hearing,” said Haley, who declined to identify specific industrial prospects. “You will see some delegations coming from India to South Carolina to not only see what we’re doing on the business side ... but also on the tourism side.”
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Haley and Duane Parrish, director of the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, have worked to lure Indian visitors while on the trip. The pair spoke to more than 40 reporters about tourism.
“The Indian community knows a lot about the big cities,” Haley said. “They know about New York. They know about Chicago.”
But Haley said she and Parrish have pitched the Palmetto State’s golf courses and Charleston’s worldwide reputation to Indian chief executives. They also hope to attract large group tours.
In addition to business leaders, Haley has met with top Indian government officials in New Delhi, including the nation’s foreign minister.
“With (Indian) prime minister (Narendra) Modi, he’s gone in the direction of (being) very pro-business, reducing regulations, reducing taxes, focusing on training,” she said. “Everything that we’ve done and focused on in South Carolina, he’s now focusing on in India. We know those results work. If he continues to do that, this is going to be a country we want to do business in.”
Haley said she has no plans to open economic-development or tourism offices in India. Instead, she plans to reach agreements to get Indian business delegations to South Carolina after her trade mission ends this weekend.
The governor added she also sees opportunities for exchanges between major colleges in South Carolina and India.
Haley said officials have mentioned the University of South Carolina for its international business, pharmaceutical and information-technology programs and Clemson University for its automotive, agriculture and engineering research. She has visited three Indian colleges – Lovely Professional University, Guru Nanak Dev University and Rayat-Bahra University.
The India media has given Haley’s trip a lot of attention since her parents emigrated from the country in the late 1960s, eventually landing in Bamberg. The governor said that story is part of her economic-development work.
“Anytime we can do something where it will allow me to sell South Carolina ... we take them up on it,” Haley said.
Haley visited India’s Punjab state, the birthplace of her parents, last weekend for meetings with business and government leaders as well as visits to Sikh shrines and memorials. The 42-year-old governor last visited the India when she was a toddler.
“All I had were the memories of my parents, the stories that they told, the image I had created in my head of those stories,” she said, “So to come here was emotional and overwhelming, to now put the real pictures to that story.”