“Collaborate, communicate, cooperate,” are three things South Carolina businesses do best, according to Governor Henry McMaster. McMaster addressed a crowd of local business owners this month at the 42 Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce to discuss the year in business, including things that are going well and areas that are improving.

McMaster spoke about the ways in which South Carolina stands out among other states in the country. The top three? It's a paradise, is dedicated to the military, and maintains a strong tradition of faith.

“We really are living in paradise; all you have to do is walk outside and look at it,” McMaster said.

Education

Another topic McMaster covered in great detail was education. He said the state's technical college system is considered the best in the United States and that one of the Lowcountry's own, North Charleston’s Academic Magnet High School, is  ranked first in the nation in U.S. News & World Report.

Although McMaster talked about the positive aspects of South Carolina’s education system, he also covered the areas in which he felt the state could improve.

“Having a reputation of education that is weak in some parts of the state and not doing something about it is not good," he said. "That is why I asked the state Legislature to pass legislation to raise the teacher compensation, which they did, and to get us law enforcement officers at every school in South Carolina...so you and I and everybody else don’t have to worry about the children when they are in school."

According to McMaster, the Legislature also granted him his request for more mental health counselors in schools. It was the first time state lawmakers approved money for that need, he said.

Santee Cooper

McMaster commented on the state’s government-run utility provider that has made a lot of headlines recently regarding its massive debts and various scandals. McMaster told the crowd that the state is working towards a “good, strong way out,” that is most beneficial to the citizens.

“It’s clear that the right kinds of decisions were not being made,” McMaster said.

He told the crowd about the potential of selling the company, although nothing has been finalized.

“Maybe in the end, this will be a good thing for South Carolina; maybe in the end, we will be stronger for it,” McMaster said.

The meeting concluded with the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce handed out awards to businesses and organizations that have been operating in the county for at least 10, 25, 50 and 100 years.