Virus Outbreak-South Carolina

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Columbia, S.C.

(The Center Square) – South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order Thursday prioritizing efforts to use South Carolina manufacturers and promote South Carolina medical supplies.

McMaster’s effort has a goal of creating a system that will ensure life-saving supplies are available to residents throughout South Carolina so the state will not have to rely on other countries to supply products in an emergency, such as with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This last year has made it very clear that relying on China for life-saving medical supplies is a risk we can no longer afford, and South Carolina can lead the way when it comes to bringing the manufacturing of those products back home to the United States," McMaster said in a statement Thursday. “By successfully recruiting pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing companies to invest and locate here, we will bring good, high-paying jobs for our people and reliable access to the critical supplies we may need in an emergency.”

Executive Order 2021-17 directs state agencies to identify and promote South Carolina manufacturers and supplies.

The order also directs the South Carolina Department of Commerce to review its operations and structure to see whether any changes can be made to help recruit more pharmaceutical companies to the state.

The order notes South Carolina has a life sciences industry with a $12 billion economic impact that includes more than 800 firms and more than 43,000 professionals.

McMaster's order notes a similar executive order last year from former President Donald Trump was a positive step, but South Carolina still needs more, noting personal protection equipment supplies from within the state is a priority.

“Although President Trump’s prompt and decisive executive action helped alleviate certain aspects of this multi-faceted issue, additional measures are warranted at both the federal and state levels to increase the domestic development and production of essential medicines and critical medical supplies and to reduce and eliminate the current and unsustainable reliance on foreign manufacturers and supply chains,” the order reads.

The order also says South Carolina’s Biotechnology Industry Organization (SC BIO) will play a strong role in the initiative, working with the Department of Commerce. SC BIO is a not-for-profit life sciences and economic development organization formed to promote and expand South Carolina’s life sciences industry.

“As a major driver and diversification of South Carolina’s growing economy, the surging impact, reach and significance of the multi-billion dollar life sciences industry in our state certainly warrants the strategic emphasis being placed on it by Governor McMaster,” SC BIO President and CEO Sam Konduros said in a statement. “We’re honored by the Governor‘s profound support, and this bold Executive Order further demonstrates his ongoing commitment to empower our statewide mission to build, advance and grow the life sciences and pharmaceutical industry in the Palmetto State like never before.”