Scott: Rural areas need help; senator seeks tax incentives to spur economic growth

BAMBERG – U.S. Sen. Tim Scott says the creation of federal Opportunity Zones can help Bamberg County and other rural communities share in the United States’ economic recovery. “Much of our country has really blossomed since the recovery started,” Scott said during a stop in Bamberg on Monday. “But there’s an uneven aspect of that recovery, and so I have targeted, specifically, those areas that need help the most,” he said. Scott met with Bamberg County residents in county council chambers, where he answered questions related to issues in the county. He also visited other area counties on Tuesday. Scott told the Bamberg County residents, “I’m here because I think I have a real opportunity to present solutions to some of the problems.” His focus is on Opportunity Zones designed to benefit rural counties like Bamberg using tax incentives. The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 created the zones to encourage businesses to invest in low-income areas on a long-term basis.

Scott said Opportunity Zones have “a real potential of bringing some of a $2 trillion capital gain back to rural aspects of South Carolina, and frankly the rural aspects of America.” Bamberg County Councilman Sharon Hammond asked Scott how the county would use the Opportunity Zone designation. Scott said the county could reach out to businesses and try to bring them to the county. “What you can do is, you find those businesses that are targeting rural areas for production/increase, and you say to those businesses, ‘Is there opportunity to expand your operations to our county?’” Scott said. Councilman Trent Kinard said that it feels as if the legislature has forgotten Bamberg County and other rural areas. Scott recognized that there are problems within the county, but said the solutions will not come directly from Washington D.C. “There are no permanent solutions that come from the outside. All permanent solutions come from the inside,” Scott said. “To assume that Washington (D.C.) is coming to fix all of those problems is unrealistic expectation,” Scott said. But it can partner with rural areas to help solve some problems. Scott noted that workforce development is a key component to developing a successful community. “If it is not a part of the solution, there will be no solution,” Scott said. Scott stated the Opportunity Zones will specifically target areas that need a “second look” from industries.