LORIS, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Country Chairman Mark Lazarus spoke freely with community leaders from across three counties and two states in Loris on Wednesday, discussing ways to bring more business to the area by promoting the newly renovated railroads.
"What it does mean is better jobs. It means more industry." said Lazarus.
"Mark Lazarus's leadership and his vision and goal is to create an economic incentive program for more than one state. Connecting North Carolina and South Carolina, that's something that's never been done." said RJ Corman representative Bill Henderson.
A large part of that incentive is the Tiger Grant, a $5 million federal grant that RJ Corman would use to update the rail lines. If the grant were to go through, RJ Corman's trains would be able to go from 10 miles to 25 mph, something the committee said would be vital to bringing new business to the Grand Strand.
"We're putting the pieces of the puzzle together. So what this should do is help us and put another tool in that tool box as we go out and seek companies to locate here in Horry and Columbus counties." said Lazarus.
Henderson said, along with new jobs, the railroads could also bring other benefits. By lowering shipping costs, as many as 45,000 trucks could be taken off the roads and highways like U.S. 501, which would ease traffic and safety issues.
"There's a lot of interest and I think that interest continues to increase as soon as they see that first red locomotive. So that's what we're excited about and once it's a real tangible representation that rail is here, I think we're going to start seeing companies coming to visit and looking to relocate in the area." said Henderson.
A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held here in downtown Loris on March 30 at 10:30 a.m. to signify the official reopening of the South Carolina Railroad.