Grand Strand, Pee Dee leaders working together to create jobs

The Northeastern Strategic Alliance (NESA) held its first Economic Development Regional Review and Resources Conference at the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Theater in Florence Monday.

NESA is a regional economic development organization that serves nine counties in northeastern South Carolina.

The organization's primary mission is to create jobs for the residents of the Pee Dee and Grand Strand.

"This thing is about recruitment, bringing in good quality jobs for the citizens in this region. And that is what it's all about. I can tell you we're already seeing counties with the unemployment rate dropping," said Senator Yancey McGill (D) Williamsburg County.

Several economic and county leaders from around the area took part in the conference.

They updated NESA on pending economic development projects in their counties.

NESA says industries are more willing to come to the communities when the leaders in the region work together.

"First thing they want to see is that everybody in the area, all the legislators, all the city councils, county councils are on the same page as far as economic development goes," said Stuart Ames, Progress Energy.

NESA leaders have traveled as far as Japan trying to recruit companies to the region.

They say their hard work is paying off and they're starting to hear back from prospective companies.

NESA continues to promote funding for I-73.

The organization believes the highway will be the catalyst to changing the economic climate of the Pee Dee and Grand Strand region.