Jim Rex, state superintendent of education and a Democratic candidate for governor, added a last minute stop to his campaign tour in Georgetown on Wednesday, stopping by the Steelworkers of America Union Hall.
Rex, himself a former steelworker, stopped by to see firsthand one of the state's biggest issues: a lack of jobs.
The ArcelorMittal steel mill in Georgetown has been shut down since July, and the company and the union are in negotiations to reopen the plant. A deal is close, union and company officials said earlier this week.
Rex said he spent about eight months cutting steel coils at the Champion spark plug plant in Toledo, OH after high school.
With such short notice no current steelworkers showed up to meet Rex Wednesday, however Rex shared his ideas for keeping the mill open with the Steelworker Organization's Active Retiree President Samuel Wragg and The Sun News.
Rex also was invited to the next Steelworkers Union meeting May 19.
"Here is a concrete example ... of a work force that is ready to go in an area that has suffered economically," Rex said. "We are going to do everything we can to get that steel mill up and running."
Georgetown County's jobless rate has shot well into the double digits and had improved to 13.1 percent in March, the most recent data available."Well, part of it is making sure the company believes that the state is helping it remain competitive," Rex said.
The port of Georgetown needs about $9 million to dredge its channel to the federally authorized depth of 27 feet. It is about 21 feet, according to the last available reading from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The mill was one of the port's biggest customers.
Rex is spending the last 46 days of the primary campaign visiting all of the state's counties.
Rex also visited Waccamaw Intermediate School and Sampit Community Center during his campaign stop in Georgetown.