State lawmakers address business leaders in the Pee Dee

State lawmakers address business leaders in the Pee Dee

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Representatives from the federal and local level were in the Pee Dee Friday morning.

The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce hosted a legislative breakfast at the Florence Civic Center. Business leaders and legislators were under one roof to find out what's on the horizon for the business community in 2016 and how the government plans to help pave the future for them.

"If we're going to have a competitive economy, we need good infrastructure," said Tom Rice, U.S. Congressman for the 7th District of South Carolina. "Infrastructure in the rural counties all over the state of South Carolina and all over the country is in desperate need of attention."

That was just one of the topics talked about. Representative Roger Kirby with Marion and Florence counties also discussed the inadequate funding for roads in the area. He said in Florence County alone there are 1,400 miles of road with about $2 million a year to maintain them.

"Anyway you want to divide that, it puts us on a 100-year re-pavement cycle," Kirby said.

Legislators brought up the need for a better economy and education. Terry Alexander, House rep for Darlington and Florence counties says there is a direct correlation between schools doing great in a community and economic development thriving.

"Greenville, Charleston, Columbia, that I-26 corridor where they are actually spending good money into their school systems," said Alexander.

Tim Norwood, owner of Victors Restaurant in Florence, was in the crowd. He said the lawmakers touched on topics that directly impact his business and the area.

"They were trying to get the point across it will take a lot of tough decisions, which means taxes are going to have to be raised in order to meet the demands our citizens expect, with improved roads, improved healthcare and improved education," said Norwood.

Rice ended his speech by saying in order to improve the economy, the next president needs to unite everyone instead of divide.

"If I could only pick one thing, it's tax reform. We talk about it all the time, the president talks about it all the time. We're going to put a proposal on the table, hopefully we'll see it happen," said Rice.

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