Apparently riffing on a release sent out by the SC Democratic Party, Will Folks writes:
Is it a “great day in South Carolina?”
Not if you live in Cheraw or Bennettsville, S.C. These two rural towns are reeling after a recent announcement from Bi-Lo – a regional grocery store chain that operates roughly 200 supermarkets in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
According to reporter Mary Edwards of WMBF TV (NBC – Myrtle Beach/ Florence, S.C.), Bi-Lo is shutting down stores in Cheraw and Bennettsville – a move that will leave 130 employees out of work.
The job losses are coming sooner rather than later, too, with the store’s regional public relations manager telling Edwards the stores will be closing prior to November 19 of this year.
Happy Thanksgiving, right?…
As a native of Bennettsville, I can remember when it had a thriving retail environment, with a bustling Main Street and several supermarkets in the downtown area — Winn-Dixie, Colonial (anybody remember Colonial Stores?), an A&P, and later, a Harris Teeter.
Not so much anymore. I haven’t counted the grocery stores lately, but it’s been awhile since downtown has been what it was.
But the view can still look pretty good from Columbia, as Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt writes today in The State — and he has plenty of facts on his side:
By any measure, South Carolina is on a roll. Over the past four years, we have been making major gains — gains that are bringing economic stability and opportunity to communities across the state.
We’ve celebrated big recruitment wins, including announcements by the world’s top automotive and aerospace companies, boosted opportunities for small businesses and created an environment that encourages existing industry to continue expanding in our state.
The facts are clear: Trend lines show unemployment on the decline while the number of South Carolinians working has risen to historic highs. Our economy is humming, and companies around the world are choosing South Carolina as a place where they can succeed….
That team approach starts at the top, with Gov. Nikki Haley personally invested and fully integrated in what we’re doing, meeting and speaking with prospects or our existing companies. As the CEO of the state, she understands the importance of customer service and a personal touch. In fact, one thing we hear from clients all over the world is that she readily gives them her cell phone number and says to call her with any issues….
So which is it? Is our economy in the dumps, or thriving?
We’ve make progress on unemployment roughly mirroring the same trends in the national economy since recession turned around in 2009. Gov Haley’s track record as an industry recruiter looks good only in comparison to her predecessor, about on par with most sunbelt states (except maybe Georgia. Funny how members of one party want to blame unemployment increases on the President if he’s from another party, but claim all improvement as being local despite overall macroeconomics having the biggest impact (short of a local energy boom or something).
According to the U.S. BLS recent stats (August 2014) SC’s U-6 unemployment rate (“total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers.”) was 12.4 %.
Not only is SC’s ratbetter than the national average (12.9 %), it is better than that of its surrounding states (GA, NC, and TN ) which was not the normal case always under Govs. Campbell or Sandford.
In fact SC’s U-6 recovery has been better than New York City, w York State and California. Why haven’t we heard this from the mainstream media? Alert readers will know. Others cannot perps never be convinced to or care to learn.
Obviously they are talking about different things. Hitt is trumpeting the wins, as a whole, while certainly many towns and counties are places that time forgot and the decades cannot improve. Some counties have “won” jobs, while others remain in Reconstruction mode.
There is a common thread between getting a few manufacturers to “re-shore” some work to S.C. and the tough prospects for Bi-Lo and other grocery chains.
At one time, we were loyal customers but we stopped shopping at Bi-Lo because the stores were not as good as the competition, Food Lion, Harris-Teeter, and others. The store we patronized kept changing managers and the service went from good to mediocre then to poor.
And, what does closing poor performing stores have to do with anything anyway? Did Haley personally cause the stores to close? Is any governor, Democrat or Republican, responsible for a poor performing store or supermarket? It happens all the time. Even the great Belk store chain closes stores that do not perform in certain markets.
SC as a whole, has continued to economically grow after the 2008 crash.
Greenville, Lexington, Charleston, York, etc., are mostly doing fine.
There are large pockets of institutional poverty in SC though, and if you live and work and only drive between the state’s towns, you won’t see it.
And a grocery store shutting down is the greatest harbinger that the outside world has given up on a place economically – a true food dessert. And rural communities across the South are depopulating in a hurry, moving to suburbs of places like Charlotte, Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville, etc.
Hitt & Haley have helped, but I can’t imagine if Sheheen and whoever would have been his economic guy had been in place four years ago, that things in SC would have been that much different, as what goes on culturally, etc., has a much bigger influence.
The 10 states with the worst quality of life-SC is #7