FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - People from all over the Pee Dee have a better understanding of the issues facing the business community after a speech from Governor Nikki Haley Thursday.
"My way of working for them is to come and let them know what's going on and celebrate the success of all of our small businesses that we're seeing today, so it was great to be here in Florence," Governor Haley said.
Governor Haley addressed hundreds of people as the keynote speaker at the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce's 2015 Outlook Luncheon.
She said she asks her cabinet members every day what they're doing to put people back to work. The governor talked about a new training program called Succeed that she's hoping to start to help small businesses get qualified workers.
As for larger businesses, the governor said she's excited Mercedes has chosen South Carolina for a new automotive plant. However, it's been difficult to get those bigger corporations to move into the Pee Dee because she says there's a stigma about an atmosphere of unionization.
"We have tried to tell them that that is not the label that we want the Pee Dee to have and we don't think it's a realistic situation," she said. "We believe that companies that take care of their people, their people will take care of them."
Governor Haley also talked about how restructuring the government and education are key factors in helping the state's economy. She said ethics reform is needed for people to trust their representatives.
"It leaks over into everything else like seeing all of a sudden half a billion dollar debt in bonds and all done in secrecy," the governor said. "It is a cloak of secrecy."
She said she doesn't want to see the state go back into debt despite having extra revenue this year.
"At what point when you have 400 million in extra dollars does it make sense to borrow half a million dollars? It just doesn't," she said. "No households can afford it right now."
She didn't bring up offshore drilling in her Outlook Luncheon speech, but Governor Haley said she's interested in the idea of exploring it further.
"We don't want to do anything that's going to hurt the state, but secondly, if there's an option and if we are able to do that and create that sort of independence for the country, we want to make sure that we're going to do that," she said.
She also said she's finally becoming satisfied with the efforts to make Atlantic Beach's Bike Fest safer this year and she's hoping the tourists visiting for it understand that.
"There's also a code of conduct that we expect in return, so right now we feel like plans are really good," the governor said. "We're keeping in strong communication."