COLUMBIA, S.C. — Vice-President Mike Pence hailed a Columbia church for its efforts to create revitalize an area of Columbia as part of program approved by the government.
Pence joined South Carolina U.S. Senator Tim Scott at the Meeting Place Church, which also owns a 23-acre property right beside Columbia Place Mall on Two Notch Road. Bishop Eric Freeman, who leads the church, took them on a tour of the property.
"It's truly inspiring," Pence said after his tour.
The Meeting Place Church bought the opportunity zone property in 2017. Since then, Spotlight Cinemas Capital 8 opened in a former theater location adjacent to Columbia Place Mall. The multiplex features 8 screens, digital projection, Dolby 7.1 sound, large luxury rockers and $8 ticket prices.
The redevelopment is a collaboration between Spotlight Cinemas and The Meeting Place Church of Greater Columbia.
"After 11 years of abandonment, the Capital 8 Theater is a reality is a reality and it's creating jobs and opportunity and energy in this growing community," Pence said.
The property is located in a South Carolina Opportunity Zone -- part of a community development program created by Congress to encourage long-term private investments in economically distressed communities across the U.S. Those zones were included in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that were a provision introduced by Sen. Scott.
"Opportunity zones help address unique needs by forming partnerships between the federal government with regard to tax benefits state and local leaders and local investors, and local investors," Pence added.
The Meeting Place Church's goal was to create a spiritual meeting place as well as a source of economic growth. Pence said he could see that faith was a large part of the effort, and he said that's needed for success.
"It's always been on that solid foundation we've been able to bring people together on a point of need," Pence said.