NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Lowcountry Mayors discussed COVID-19 recovery efforts while addressing plans for economic and business growth on Thursday at the Charleston Business Journal’s annual Business Expo. Mayors from Summerville, Mount Pleasant, Goose Creek, North Charleston and the City of Charleston all participated in the round table discussion.
The mayors say navigating the past year was a challenge but recovery has been fast individually and as a group. Some focus for the leaders remains on recovery while also addressing things such as housing, workforce stability and regional development.
During the more than hour roundtable, City of Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie, Summerville Mayor Ricky Waring and Goose Creek Mayor Greg Habib discussed the various challenges and plans moving forward.
“No it has been a challenging time,” says Mayor Tecklenburg.
In North Charleston, Mayor Summey says as of late “it’s been business as usual,” saying the city has seen a “faster than expected” recovery from the pandemic.
Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie noted the group’s collective efforts as crucial to get through COVID-19. “Nothing brought us closer together than dealing with this pandemic,” says Mayor Haynie.
The mayors shared mixed feelings at the Charleston Regional Business Journal Expo at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center.
The five mayors reflected on the challenges of COVID-19 each of their municipalities faced in front of hundreds of business owners before turning to what they hope comes next.
“We kept things safer than most places in the state and most places in the country through cooperative efforts of local elected officials,” says Mayor Tecklenburg.
Economic improvements, increasing affordable housing and adding higher paid jobs are all goals going forward for the municipalities and regional development experts. The group of mayors say it’s also important to be on the same page as community business leaders.
“It’s important that they understand we have the same goals,” says Mayor Summey. “Small business is the backbone of America, always has been, always will be.”
The Charleston Regional Development Alliance has added 50,000 jobs to the area over the last decade and is looking to add more to the number. Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie says it’s a vital focus for the municipalities.
“We’ve had all the residential growth we can handle over the last decade,” says Mayor Haynie. “We need to grow our economy and we need to do it in a smart way that protects our quality of life but gives high paying jobs in the town.”
Local leaders and hundreds of businesses and entrepreneurs are hopeful their efforts and conversations will better prepare the Lowcountry and it’s economy for years of future growth.
“And I think our economy is really set to take off,” says Mayor Tecklenburg.
The Charleston Regional Development Alliance says attention to things like housing and livability remain critical. They expect the regions population to top one million people by the year 2031.