UNION — An open mind to all possibilities and flexibility of workforce and leadership are the keys to successful industrial recruitment and economic development, U.S. Fifth District Rep. Mick Mulvaney says.
For decades, Union County has been part of the Fourth Congressional District with Spartanburg and Greenville counties and part of Laurens County. The growth of South Carolina’s population has enabled the state to gain a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, increasing it delegation from six to seven members.
Redistricting to accommodate this increase has resulted in Union County being shifted out of the Fourth Congressional District into the Fifth Congressional District represented by Mulvaney. Prior to redistricting, the Fifth District was composed of all or parts of 12 counties. A member of Mulvaney’s staff said Thursday that with redistricting, the district is now composed of all or part of 10 counties including all of York, Lancaster, Union, Fairfield, Lee and Kershaw counties, part of Spartanburg County, half of Newberry County, and the majority of Sumter County.
Mulvaney, a Lancaster County resident, was in Union County last Friday, meeting with local officials and touring the ESAB and Gestamp manufacturing facilities and Union County High School. Earlier this week, Mulvaney said Friday’s visit was the idea of his friend, Fourth District Rep. Trey Gowdey, to introduce him to the local leadership and “bring me up to speed” about Union County.
“It was sort of an introduction, a chance to talk about the issues,” Mulvaney said. “It was a chance to talk about the county’s assets like rail access and the four-lane and hear about the challenges the county is facing.”
Mulvaney said the challenge Union County is facing his how to develop a new economic base to replace the textile industry. He said many of the other counties in his district are facing the same challenge as Union County, and Mulvaney said the key to doing so successfully is through a combination of open-mindedness and flexibility.
“In Lancaster County, we first looked to replace textiles with textiles and that didn’t work,” Mulvaney said. “Now we’re making Duracel batteries and nutritional supplements. We expanded our base.
“To do that, you have to keep an open mind about all possibilities,” he said. “You also have to have a flexible leadership and a flexible workforce to take advantage of those possibilities. That flexibility is going to be the key as we seek to rebuild our manufacturing base.”
Mulvaney said that flexible workforce can be achieved through an educational system that is geared toward meeting the needs of new industry by training workers who will have the skills and the ability to adapt to the changing workplace. He said ESAB and Gestamp show what can happen when an educational system works to produce a flexible workforce and a county’s leadership has an open mind to opportunity and the flexibility to take advantage of that opportunity.
“It’s pretty amazing and encouraging,” Mulvaney said. “It is encouraging to see that kind of work going on in Union County.”
While he was able to spend a considerable amount of time at ESAB and Gestamp, Mulvaney’s visit to Union County High School was much shorter, but he said he hopes to be back in the near future and spend more time at the school.
“It was a very quick tour, usually I spend half a day at a school I visit,” Mulvaney said. “I was pleased to meet with Principal Lyles and spend the time I did touring the classes I was able to visit. I plan come back and spent half of a day at the school.”
For more information about Rep. Mick Mulvaney and the Fifth Congressional District, contact his Rock Hill constituent service office at (803) 327-1114 or his Washington, D.C., office at (202) 225-5501.