I-73 to cut down drive times, bring thousands of jobs

Updated: Jun. 21, 2017 at 11:36 AM EDT
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CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Once construction starts for I-73, it changes the game for economic development in our area. The interstate is going to put us at a more competitive advantage for industry growth.

The I-73 project will do more than reduce traffic on Highway 501 and cut down on drive times. It's predicted to create higher wages and drop the unemployment rate in our area. Most significant is that it has the potential to bring thousands of jobs to our area.

Economic developers predict the millions of dollars it's going to take to build I-73 could potentially be paid for within four years because of the economic development the interstate is going to create.

The I-73 project will not only bring jobs when it comes to actually building the road, it's going to bring jobs well after it's built. According to research by economic developers, I-73 could generate about 7,700 temporary construction jobs, and 22,000 permanent jobs after construction.

Jobs will be created specifically for work on interchanges and stops along roads like new gas stations, hotels and restaurants. The Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation says having an interstate in our area will also bring in larger companies and companies MBREDC isn't able to reach right now.

The Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation was created to help grow and cultivate business opportunities in the Grand Strand.

But the team said the biggest problem when it comes recruiting businesses to the area is convenience. The corporation said it's hard to bring in larger companies because those businesses expect to have a location within 30 miles of an interstate to connect them to suppliers.

Right now, that eliminates all of Horry County.

So, whereas the team recruits small companies that bring in 35 to 100 jobs, with I-73 finally getting the green light, the MBREDC believes it will now be able to recruit larger companies that will bring in anywhere from 200 to 800 jobs per company.

"It opens up another market for us, it opens up companies that right now we're not able to touch, we're not able to communicate with because we don't have that asset, I-73. We've been successful without it but with I-73 our organization and the county will be significantly more successful," said MBREDC President Josh Kay.

Now that the I-73 permit has been approved, it's also expected to increase tourism by at least seven percent.

While jobs are another big aspect of I-73, it's also going to provide an alternate hurricane evacuation route.

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