The Energizer Bobby

tate House of Representatives’ Speaker of the House and District 114 (West Ashley) representative Bobby Harrell, Jr. will be addressing the upcoming meeting of WAJIBA on the morning of Wednesday, September 26

The Energizer Bobby

S.C. House Speaker Harrell to offer unique perspective to pro-business non-profit at group’s upcoming monthly meeting

By Charlie Morrison

Community Editor

South Carolina Congressional delegate Bobby Harrell, Jr. brought the 119th South Carolina General Assembly to an official close earlier this summer. With a bang of the gavel, Harrell both concluded the year’s official House business and marked a personal milestone, two decades of service representing West Ashley in Columbia as a member of the House. His experience and position alone as Speaker of the House, one of South Carolina’s two law-making bodies make Harrell one of the state’s most powerful and influential legislators. Harrell has also operated his own small business in West Ashley for over 30 years, establishing him a big ideal draw for almost any function including members of the state’s business community. In that vein, Speaker Harrell will be addressing the West Ashley and James Island Business Association (WAJIBA) at their upcoming monthly meeting, on September 26. With that in mind, West Of caught up with Harrell for a quick Q&A on business, politics and his relationship with the Governor. (Topics covered in italics).

On representing greater Charleston in the State Legislature for 20 years:

“Having grown up west of the Ashley and gone to middle and high school, and Orangegrove Elementary School, you gain an appreciation for your home town over the years. I absolutely love Charleston … it’s a very special place to me.”

On doing business in West Ashley in 2012 as a small business:

“Business (West of the Ashley) is slow, it’s not bad by any means, but it’s a little slow. I think that we’re all looking to the election, and hopefully the economy speeds up after that a little bit.”

 On the House’s decision to fund the Port of Charleston’s dredging process an additional $120 million, bringing the total amount allocated to the project to $300 million, to provide for post-Panamax ships to call on Charleston as a point of access to the U.S.’s eastern seaboard:

“It was important for us that South Carolina’s prepared to do what we have to do to get it deepened. We first set aside $180 million, which is the state ___, $120 million, which is the total cost to dredge the harbor, so that our federal delegation and the folks from the port can go to Washington and say, ‘we’ve got the money, please expedite the process.’ They did that, and the federal government has sped up the process.”

On Charleston and South Carolina’s ability to drive major, job-creating corporate players such as Boeing to the region:

“The change in Charleston from the early 1970’s to today has been dramatic. With that change, we have become one of the most sought after cities in the world. When companies come to look at us, we offer a great first impression because they see the wonderful place they’ll get to live if they relocate here. When you’re successful and you get somebody like Boeing to do what they’re doing here, the economy of the area grows dramatically, which continues to improve the area even more. I believe we in Charleston are on an upward spiral right now, where things are getting better for families and things are certainly better for businesses … I think we have an incredibly bright future.”

On the proposed project to expand the I-526 Mark Clark Expressway, and the recently-released USC survey in which nearly three quarters of those surveyed favored building the road along its proposed route over Johns and James Islands:

“It’s what I expected. I’ve been talking with people in our community for years and people’s reaction to 526 is typically, ‘why don’t you guys go ahead and finish it?’ It confirmed what I have believed for a long time just from talking to people.”

On his late father, former longtime state Transportation Administrator Bob Harrell, Sr., and what his opinion on the current state of the state’s transportation infrastructure might be:

“Daddy would be very excited about what’s happening with the port, what’s happening with 526, getting highway 17 widened between here and Beaufort … he would be very, very pleased.”

… and on the PGA tour returning to the Lowcountry:

“To see, 20 years later, the PGA championship at the same golf course, he would have been ecstatic. I can tell you, he would have been at the tournament every day.”

On his and the Senate’s relationship with Gov. Nikki Haley’s office:

“The relationship with the Governor’s office is fine. We’ve focused on economic development, we’ve focused on getting rid of regulations and red tape, doing the next version of tort reform, we had a lot of major things that we got through the General Assembly this past year that are really good for South Carolina’s business climate, particularly. Working with the Governor’s office was not difficult at all on those things.”

 

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