The Charleston area is competing to land a whopper to add to its strong defense and military presence.
Dorchester County Council unanimously agreed Monday to provide Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce with $5,000 for its military council, which will seek to bring a continental joint command — and 1,500 jobs — to the Charleston region.
Dorchester County now joins Berkeley and Charleston counties and private sector commitments to the council. The chamber has also received commitments from the city of North Charleston and Charleston area defense contractors.
The military council is charged with a singular task: bring the Africa Command to the tri-county, which already boasts a large support cluster of advanced securities companies.
The U.S. Africa Command is one of six of the Defense Department's regional military headquarters, which was declared a fully unified command on Oct. 1, 2008. According to the command's website, Africa Command has administrative responsibility for U.S. military support to U.S. government policy in Africa, to include military-to-military relationships with 54 African nations.
The other five regional commands and their locations are: U.S. Central Command, Tampa, Fla.; U.S. European Command, Stuttgart, Germany; U.S. Northern Command, Colorado Springs, Colo.; U.S. Pacific Command, Honolulu; and U.S. Southern Command, Miami.
The Africa Command is currently in Germany, where the European Command is located.
In 2008, the military evaluated potential sites for the command and Charleston was "favored," according to chamber Senior Vice President of Business Advocacy Mary Graham. The region's military presence and location helped give it its top ranking, Graham said.
However, the decision to move the site was put on hold. Now the military is expected to make its Africa Command location decision in 2012, Graham said.
"We're putting together the business case now," Graham said. "We are the most cost-efficient location and best meet the needs of the mission of Africa Command."
Currently, the chamber is working with state and Congressional leaders to bring the command here.
Graham said Gov. Nikki Haley has also gone beyond what any other state governor vying for the command has done: visit the command in Germany. During her now-controversial trip to Europe, which cost $127,000 of taxpayer money, Haley stopped by the command and spent hours there, according to Graham.
"We think that's a very positive thing," Graham said. "She was actually going there for jobs … She had a big impact."
Gov. Haley could not be reached for comment on her efforts to land the Africa Command.
According to the Post and Courier, Haley's husband visited the command, but the article does not say whether or not the governor attended. In a follow-up op-ed piece in the newspaper, Haley did not site any visit to the command.