COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — A new House committee has been tasked with finding ways to attract more businesses and industries to South Carolina.

Last month, South Carolina House Speaker Murrell Smith (R-Sumter) established the House Economic Development and Utility Modernization Ad-Hoc committee. The bipartisan committee is made up of 12 House members from all over the state.

Speaker Smith told the committee during their first meeting, “We need to prepare ourselves for the next generation of industry coming to South Carolina.”

According to Smith, so far this year new companies have invested more than $1 billion dollars and have brought more than 3000 jobs to South Carolina.

So far, the committee has met twice. They are looking at economic and workforce development, modernizing the state’s utilities and investing to fix roads, improve water systems and expand access to high-speed internet.

The goal is to keep South Carolina competitive with neighboring states for new businesses. South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Harry Lightsey said South Carolina competes with Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, and Virginia.

While speaking to the committee he mentioned some companies established electric vehicle manufacturing and chip facilities in other parts of the country.

Lawmakers on the panel asked him what may had been some of the reasons those companies didn’t set up shop in South Carolina. He said incentive deals offered by other states played a role, “In some cases they’re looking for a specific type of location or site. They’re looking for the availability of certain broadband, water, sewer and power.”

Next week, the committee will meet to discuss ‘workforce development’ recommendations.