If you believe the national pundits, it’s been a rough year to be a South Carolinians. (I don’t believe them… mainly because I’m not even sure who or what a “pundit” is.)
Ever since our Governor captured international headlines on the first full day of summer with his make-believe hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail, we seem to have endured a steady stream of punch-lines. Late night comics could just utter the name of the state – “South Carolina” – and their studio audiences would break into giggles.
But, you know the old saying: “He who laughs last…”
And last week, we may have gotten the last laugh, when the aircraft manufacturer for the world, Boeing, chose our state for its newest manufacturing facility… a move which will likely put food on the table for over 4,000 South Carolina families -- and probably not just food, but prime rib and lobster -- at a time when the rest of the nation is scrambling for table scraps.
(Gratuitous publisher’s note: I’m understandably proud that two gentlemen I worked to help elect were key players in putting the Boeing deal together: Berkeley County State Senator Paul Campbell, former boss at Alumax, and the Senator with the strongest background in manufacturing, was the key inside leader of the final negotiations; and North Charleston State Representative Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the SC House or Senate and now a candidate for Lt. Governor, originally got the Boeing ball rolling several years ago when he was Chairman of Charleston County Council.)
There were lots of reasons Boeing chose South Carolina, but one really big one: our people.
For all the abuse we may take for our shortcomings, Boeing decided, as many others have, that South Carolinians are good, solid, hard-working people... the kind of people they could depend on to build good, solid, dependable aircraft for the world.
We’ve known it all long.
South Carolinians are some of the best people you can find anywhere in the world. Hardworking. Friendly. Patriotic. Faithful. Compassionate. (And I’m not just making idle chit-chat here. I can back these claims up with near facts.)
Compassionate, for instance. A couple months ago, USA Today published a chart of which states were the most charitable, based on giving their time and money. South Carolinians, for all our reported income deficiencies, showed up among the top 10 most giving populations.
Patriotic. For years, South Carolina has been ranked as one of the very highest percentages of military veterans. Our people have historically offered themselves to defend our nation at a greater rate than most any other state.
Faithful. We are the buckle of the Bible Belt.
Friendly. Southern Hospitality was born here in South Carolina. We are consistently ranked among the friendliest people in America. We’re not afraid to walk up to stranger and say, “Hey, y’all.”
Hard-working. South Carolinians have always hungered for the opportunity to earn a good decent living. Given that opportunity, we work. We work hard. We’re dedicated. We’re proud of our work ethic. Consequently, Boeing decided that the folks in the Lowcountry – some of whom had worked on our Naval Ships for generations – were the right people to now build the next generation of aircraft.
So, South Carolina landed a giant industrial development, one that will jumpstart our economy, and have untold spinoff impacts. A lot of our leaders worked together to make it happen, and they all deserve some credit for making it happen.
But the real credit should go to the hard working men and women of South Carolina who have made our state the only place I would ever even think about living.
Y’all can keep laughing if you want to… but we’re laughing best.