COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) – Earlier this week, Gov. Henry McMaster announced the creation of accelerateSC, a special team responsible for moving South Carolina’s economy forward during the COVID-19 crisis.
On Thursday, the governor led the group’s first meeting, made up of business owners, local government officials along with industry leaders in manufacturing, healthcare and education.
“This is a time that we have never experienced before,” McMaster said at the meeting’s start.
The economy has been hit hard by the pandemic, with a 50% decrease in revenue in the tourism industry alone.
“You see what happened to hotel occupancy it’s down to 20-30%,” explained South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism Director Duane Parrish. “Obviously that is not sustainable over a period of time.”
Plus, more than 300,000 people have filed for unemployment.
“We were at 3% unemployment so we have been hurt very dramatically,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt. “Our entire auto sector is idle.”
Each industry expressed challenges at Thursday’s meeting.
For hospitality, it’s defining the new normal for dine-in restaurants and entertainment venues. In the manufacturing industry, there’s a focus on preventing an outbreak in a plant.
“I don’t know how we can test 4,000 people walking into a BMW plant…and how do you do it?” Hitt asked.
The accelerateSC team will continue to discuss and develop recommendations for the governor as he continues to reopen the state.
“We want to do the best we can in this advice, this forum, to keep us going to keep us alert and take us back to where we were before this came along and beyond,” McMaster said.
The subgroups of the team will begin meeting independently next week.