Congressman Tom Rice, the U.S. representative for South Carolina's 7th congressional district, met with officials from the Georgetown County Economic Development Alliance on Thursday at Lands End Restaurant.

The Port of Georgetown and dredging of the channel leading to the port were the main topics of discussion for the brief meeting.

Also on hand were U.S. Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman, Rep. Bill Shuster and officials from local and county governments.

Rice and Shuster said they would do everything they could to help bring about dredging of the port channel.

Tim Tilley, chairman of the Georgetown County Economic Development Alliance and the Alliance's Port Dredging Task Force, welcomed the congressmen and introduced some of the 40-plus people who attended the meeting.

He explained that the Georgetown port, which has silted in to about 17 or 18 feet in places, is authorized for a 27-foot depth.

But there is not federal funding for dredging to that depth since the requirement is based on tonnage.

And since the dredging has not taken place, the port cannot receive adequate tonnage for funding.

“This is a perfect of example of what is wrong with our ability to improve infrastructure,” Shuster said. “It is the old case of the chicken and the egg.”

The channel runs 14 miles from Winyah Bay to the Atlantic Ocean and is significantly below the current million-ton threshold to ensure maintenance dredging by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Tilly said if the port channel were dredged it would help existing industries and promote new industry in Georgetown and surrounding areas.

He used the example of the steel mill in Georgetown, which receives 45 percent of its raw material to make steel from overseas through the port at Wilmington, N.C.

It is then trucked to the mill in Georgetown, 20 tons at a time, Mat Mathew, operations manager of the steel mill, said during the meeting.

He added that shipping the material directly to Georgetown would save a lot in costs.

Rice and Shuster said they understand the situation and they will look into solutions when they go back to Washington, D.C.

Rice added that people interested in dredging of the port channel and other projects should contact their representatives regularly.

“If you want us involved in economic development projects we want to know about it,” Rice said.

He and Shuster said the U.S. House will produce a water bill, which is where funding is slated for ports

They said they will push for a merit-based allocation of limited funds in that bill.

By Clayton Stairs

 

Newt Gingrich and Tom Rice addressed the crowds at the South Carolina Energy and opportunity Forum, Wednesday, May 1st at the Myrtle Beach convention Center.  

Gingrich spoke to the audience focusing on the importance of the state taking advantage of its natural resources, like oil and gas.

"An increase of energy jobs and an increase of Myrtle Beach infrastructure and the effect on the economy would be dramatic", said Gingrich.

Tom Rice spoke on just how dramatic the impact would be for the state.

"If we can pull it off, it will create up to 4,000 jobs and billions of dollars of economic activity in South Carolina", Rice said.

According to Rice, another big resource the Grand Strand can tap into is wind energy.

"This area is blessed to have a large wind field off of our coast. And wind is certainly a proven renewable energy source", said Rice

But not everyone in attendance agreed that it would be as easy to tap into these resources as the speakers made it seem.

"I'm all for energy, but the wind turbines have vibration problems, fabrication problems, output problems, transmission problems", said Cameron Drew, an expert on energy.

Drew, has worked in fossil plants, nuclear power, and he's built wind turbines.  He says that he is all for the topics the speakers, Gingrich and Rice were promoting, but thinks sometimes it's easier said than done.

"He's a man of ideas, but sometimes ideas are impossible, impractical", said Drew.

Drew said that in the past, government agencies have prevented the utilization of natural resources. He is concerned that the ideas that were brought up in the forum, won't go much further than just being ideas.

Rice said that North Myrtle beach has already implemented wind turbines and are currently looking to add more to the area.

 

South Carolina’s Upstate is home to world class manufacturing facilities. The success of companies located here and the creation of good-paying jobs for South Carolinians depend on the ability to efficiently move locally made products to destinations across the globe.

South Carolina’s ports are an essential link in this chain of commerce. Without modern facilities and capacity at the Port of Charleston, many new BMWs fresh off the line in Spartanburg could not reach their destinations around the world as cost-effectively as possible. Without reliable ports, South Carolina could not hold the title of birthplace of every BMW X5 SUV in the world.

This is why modern ports and waterways are not just critical to coastal areas. If we do not adequately maintain and improve this infrastructure, then manufacturers may no longer see the advantages of locating in places like Greenville and Spartanburg.

Making sure the United States has modern ports and waterways infrastructure is about keeping all of South Carolina and America competitive in today’s global economy.

Transportation by water is the least expensive, most fuel efficient mode of cargo transport. When 10 percent of a product’s total cost can be attributed to transportation, the efficiency of our ports can significantly impact the price of doing business in our communities.

Companies like BMW, Michelin, Bridgestone, and others are investing billions in South Carolina, in part because the existing infrastructure across the state has made investing worthwhile. Good infrastructure creates a competitive advantage.

We must continue to make these kinds of investments in America attractive to job creators. The nation’s trade volume is expected to double within a decade, and double again by 2030. The number of ships wanting to call at American ports is increasing, and so are the sizes of those vessels.

But if our ports, waterways and other infrastructure cannot keep pace, if products manufactured here become less competitive in the global marketplace, then companies may look to invest elsewhere.

Expansion of the Panama Canal will be completed next year, making it easier for ships from Asia to reach our eastern ports, and for American exports to make the return trip. Currently, only seven U.S. east coast ports are deep enough to handle the largest “post-Panamax” ships that will be coming through the canal. South Carolina’s deep water port, Charleston, is not one of them.

While BMW has invested heavily in South Carolina, the company exports 70 percent of the cars made here. South Carolina is also the largest tire exporter in the country. One factor that has allowed the Palmetto State and the nation to attract manufacturers has been the quality of our transportation system. However, without action, the demands of our nation’s growing trade volume will soon exceed the capacity of our aging infrastructure.

Brazil, which is prepared to invest $26 billion on a massive port modernization effort to become more competitive with the United States, has also been targeted recently for investment by BMW. Neither private companies nor other countries will wait for us. If we fall behind, we risk losing business and jobs.

This issue does not affect just South Carolina. Helping to maintain an infrastructure that connects American consumers, manufacturers, and farmers to domestic and world markets has always been a key federal responsibility. The Constitution clearly tasks our country’s government with facilitating the free flow of commerce throughout our nation. Some of the very first acts of Congress were authorizing navigation improvements at our burgeoning country’s harbors.

But like much of America’s infrastructure, our ports and waterways were built for the previous centuries’ economies. Many structures within this aging transportation network are now improperly sized and inadequately maintained. The most cost-effective goods delivery system we have is becoming obsolete.

Current efforts to maintain and improve this infrastructure are often plagued by red tape. While major port improvements in the United States can take 17 years, the Panama Canal expansion will have taken less than 10 years. We must do better.

This week, we are in South Carolina to examine the ports in Charleston and Georgetown, and discuss with local leaders the importance of this infrastructure to the BMWs and other companies of the world. In the coming weeks, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will develop a Water Resources Development Act, legislation to ensure that South Carolina and the nation are better prepared to address our port and waterways infrastructure needs. Doing so will help us remain globally competitive and will benefit every U.S. citizen, whether or not they can smell salt water from their front door.

Rep. Tom Rice represents South Carolina’s 7th Congressional District. U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Penn., is chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Rice, R-SC, co-sponsored a bill on Wednesday for a constitutional amendment establishing term limits for congressmen and senators, according to a press release from the congressman’s office.

The proposal would limit congressmen to three terms and senators to two.

“Our government was created by people who were public servants, not career politicians,” Rice in the release.

Rice went on to say today’s politicians should follow the lead of George Washington, who limited himself to two terms as president and set the precedent for presidents who followed, excluding FDR.

“It was our founding fathers’ intention that public servants would willingly put aside their careers, serve their country during a time of need, and return to private life,” Rice said.

The release cited a poll conducted by the research company Gallup in January that said 75-percent of American adults polled said they favored imposing term limits on federal lawmakers.

That poll noted the results were similar to two polls conducted in 1994 and 1996 where roughly two-thirds of those polled said they favored term limits.

Rice’s co-sponsors on the bill are Rep. Matt Salmon, R-AZ, Rep. David Schweikert, R-AZ, Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-FL, Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-OK, and Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-NC.

Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 5:53 pm | Updated: 6:06 pm, Wed Apr 24, 2013. By John Sweeney Pee Dee Politics.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Rice, R-SC, presided over a meeting of the House small business subcommittee he chairs in Washington, D.C. Thursday as part of a series of meetings the congressman plans to hold focusing on America economic competitiveness.

The House Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access heard testimony from four witnesses, including Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology (SiMT) Director Jack Roach, focused on economic innovation, job creation, and how Washington can help foster entrepreneurship.

Rice said the meeting was a success during a phone interview with Pee Dee Politics shortly after the subcommittee adjourned.

“We’re going to look at how we can keep job in America and stop the out flow and actually bring jobs back to America,” Rice said.

Roach, who joined Rice on the call, said the hearing was a chance for him to let others know about SiMT and how organizations like it can help foster economic growth.

“We came up here to basically tell our story. This was a opportunity to get our message out,” Roach said. “We're here to support the success of America businesses, partly in our local community, the rest of South Carolina and the region.”

SiMT is located in Florence on the campus of Florence Darlington Technical College. The facility boasts a state of the art training facility and provides technical service for industry in the southeastern United States, providing various services including engineering/CAD/CAM, rapid prototyping, and 3D/virtual reality services and various forms of manufacturing and business training.

Joining Roach on Thursday was Julie Lenzer Kirk, Co-Chair of Startup Maryland in Columbia, MD; Steve Johnson, President and CEO of CreatiVasc in Greenville, SC, and Michael D. McGeary, Co-Founder of Engine Advocacy in San Francisco, CA.

Rice said the subcommittee will hold meetings throughout the year focusing on the idea of American competativness. It is next scheduled to meet around June 1, when Rice said Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School a leading authority on competitive economic strategies will give a presentation.

“This wasn’t a partisan issue,” Rice said. “Everybody wants to work together to do what we can to create jobs and to keep America competitive.”

Rice said he hopes to have members of the subcommittee visit South Carolina’s 7th Congressional District, but said no meeting dates had been set.

By John Sweeney. Pee Dee Politics. Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013 6:31 pm