USC to host economic forecast results for South Carolina

38th annual economic outlook conference

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Darla Moore School of Business at USC will hold its 38th Annual Economic Outlook Conference.

The conference is expected to reveal several key points of the local economy in Columbia, in other cities and the entire state. The economic forecast is expected to include: regional job growth, personal income and wages. There will be a panel of state and local leaders on hand that includes State Treasurer Curtis Loftis, former Governor Jim Hodges and Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin.

WIS spoke with Benjamin on Monday, asking him about the opportunities he sees for economic growth in Columbia.

Benjamin says right now, Columbia is in great shape. He pointed to increased Gross Domestic Product growth in the last 8 years, but he says there are ways that Columbia can improve.

“What we have got to continue to do and focus on is ‘how do we grow vertically with good strong private sector investment?’ and we’ve worked, endeavored, to drive $2 Billion in capital into downtown," Benjamin said. “We’ve got to continue to push that because it allows us to support the entire operation. How do we have good, great schools? How do we make sure we have housing that’s affordable to all of our citizens including our workforce people who work in the city.”

Another topic expected to be discussed at the conference is “opportunity zones.”

Opportunity zones are meant to incentivize development, whether it be real estate, or businesses in low-income communities. It is something recently established by congress as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Right now, there are just over 1,000 tracts in South Carolina, including some in Columbia. Mayor Benjamin outlines the effect opportunity zones could have in the community.

“Presumably to raise incomes, or get our incomes up and create housing opportunities and other types of desired investment. These tracts are across our urban areas, our suburban areas and our rural areas so it’s a real singular opportunity to avoid capital gains tax liability and then also to defer some if in fact you make these smart investments,” Benjamin said.

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