GEORGETOWN, SC (WMBF) - Rep. Tom Rice wants to see Georgetown and its port succeed. He was able to secure federal funding that would have helped dredge the port to bring in bigger ships and ultimately more money.
The dredging project isn't happening at this point, and it's not clear if it will in the future. Rice tells WMBF News before revisiting the project can be considered, the steel mill needs to reopen.
"I support the people of Georgetown and whatever it is that they decide," Rice said in a phone call Monday. "Whichever path they decide to take, I will work aggressively with them to pursue that. It sounds like there is some divided opinion, as there always will be on a big issue like that, but whatever they ultimately decide, I want to support them in that."
Officials with Liberty House say they have reached an agreement to purchase Georgetown Steelworks. The company said the deal is set to be finalized in coming weeks.
Rice says for those who want to see the mill reopened, this is good news. He credits an aggressive tax reform plan as the inspiration for the interest in the mill.
He says the ideas in the attack ad Club for Growth is running against him would mean deals like this one wouldn't happen.
"This is exactly what the border adjustment tax is designed to do and that is to make America an attractive place to do manufacturing again and that's why you see this interest in the Georgetown steel mill," he said. "You know one of the reasons steel mills have struggled nationally is because of other countries dumping steel here, particularly China and this tax reform package with the border adjustment tax will make it more difficult for foreigners to illegally dump steel or other commodities on American manufactures."
Liberty House said it is confident the United Steelworkers union will support and assist in the process of recruiting a workforce to reopen the plant and rebuild the business.
The dredging project was originally supposed to cost $33 million, but Rice says the Army Corps of Engineers doubled that price tag after the county started collecting tax money to pay for the work.