McCormick Co. only county without a Haley job announcement - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

McCormick Co. only county without a Haley job announcement

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MCCORMICK COUNTY, SC (WIS) -

McCormick County was once a sought-after land rich with gold. The gold rush all but dried up decades ago.

"The feeling that it's a step back in time," said business owner Sharon Kohl. "Drug store still serves ice cream out of a turn of the century ice cream fountain."

It's a feeling locals embrace and protect even though it's meant industry has remained largely stagnant since the 80's.

"One of the strikes against us is that we don't have access to the interstate or a four-lane highway," said City Council President Charles Jennings.

"In 1985, the town of McCormick was estimated to be a ghost town within the next 10 years," said Kirk Smith, COO of the Savannah Lakes Village.

Forestry, manufacturing, and tourism carry this county's economy. Even Gov. Nikki Haley hasn't been successful in bringing new jobs to the area.

"We're not happy about knowing that she done visited 45 of the 46 counties and made a job announcement," said Jennings.

The key to expansion, according to county leaders, is getting more people to live in and pass through McCormick County. The population here is roughly 10,000 with 1,200 of those under lock and key at the state prison.

"Probably 30-40 percent of the population falls within the senior age group," said McCormick County administrator Columbus Stephens. "The way you build that tax base is you got to have retailers, a tourist population continue to be in and out of the county and we want people who come through the county to spend some money."

To attract new industry, a renewed focus has been placed on expanding infrastructure. But funding to build roads and sewers is hard to come by. Many people seem content with the slow pace of life.

"We don't always have the same hours as other towns that they expect from us," said Kohl. "And that might be an obstacle."

"Yes, we don't have a lot of shopping; no, we don't have a Walmart," said business owner Maurice White. "Those are good things. Can I go to one? Yes, 30 minutes. What's the big deal?"

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