Nov. 7, 2012 – 12:56 a.m.

113th Congress: Tom Rice, R-S.C. (7th District)

Tom Rice’s quick ascension from county council to Congress has been propelled by one thing: a desire to create jobs in his hard-hit district and the country as a whole.

Horry County, like the state, has struggled with an unemployment rate that surpasses the national average. Rice’s first task after being elected chairman of Horry County Council in 2010 was spurring economic growth.

“My No. 1 priority is to kick-start the economy and increase the number of jobs in America,” he says. “The cost of regulation in the United States is very expensive. We have to recognize that we’re no longer the sole choice; we’re going to have to be competitive” to attract business.

He will push to create business-friendly regulatory policies, tackle the national debt and look after the needs of the newly created 7th District, which has extensive infrastructure needs and agricultural interests.

One of the most visited coastal vacation spots in the country, Myrtle Beach, is not served by an interstate highway; the declining profitability of raising tobacco has forced many of the state’s farmers to start looking for alternative cash crops. Rice plans to share those narratives with his colleagues.

“I’m not looking for earmarks,” Rice cautions. “We have to . . . allocate funding on the merit of the project, and having a place where 14 million people drive in and out of [to get to the beach] is certainly going to give it a lot of merit.”