The Greenville Chamber released its 2018 policy agendas Friday, focused on expanding our workforce, expanding existing small business and ensuring all Greenville residents participate in a booming economy.
The agenda, released in concert with the Upstate Chamber Coalition, outlines the priorities of the business community at the local, state and federal levels.
More than 780 Upstate business leaders took the Chamber’s legislative survey – doubling the number who participated since 2015. The survey followed nearly 30 agenda-setting meetings throughout the summer and fall with business industry groups, other Upstate chambers and business organizations, and the Chamber’s Business Advocacy committees.
“The Greenville business community is more united and engaged than ever before on the priorities that will move the economic needle for our region,” said Carlos Phillips, President/CEO of the Greenville Chamber. “In this time of political uncertainty and polarization, the business community is rallying to be the ‘sane middle’ that supports inclusive economic growth for the entire Upstate.”
Being the second year of the two-year state and federal legislative sessions, several of the items reflect unfinished business from 2017. Several new items made the list for 2018, including support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, increased state and local funding for mass transit and new lawsuit abuse reforms to protect small business.
The Chamber’s top state priority for 2018 remains workforce expansion. Legislation to expand expungement for low-level, non-violent offenders was approved 103-0 by the state House of Representatives in 2017 and will be on the state Senate calendar for action when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.
“It is important that more people can get jobs and participate in the workforce so we may continue our economic expansion,” said Dr. Keith Miller, Greenville Technical College president and the Chamber’s 2018 Board Chair. “A single, minor mistake made years ago should not be a lifelong barrier to employability. Our expungement legislation will help many of our neighbors get back on their feet and will help us close the workforce gap.”
The Chamber’s top local agenda item for 2018 is the expansion of Greenlink – the local mass transit system. The business community is calling for an immediate expansion of funding for Greenlink so the system can expand its service hours.
“Any immediate funding should be part of a longer-term expansion process so people have reliable transportation to jobs, education and healthcare,” said Jason Zacher, Senior Vice President of Business Advocacy. “Mass transit is not a social service, it is critical infrastructure and should be treated as such. Greenlink is drastically underfunded compared to our peer communities across the Southeast. Greenville County, the City of Greenville and the other county municipalities need to begin the process of expanding our transit system immediately.”
The agenda was unveiled at the Chamber’s Annual Legislative Breakfast, which had more than 200 local business leaders and more than two dozen local and state elected officials in attendance. This annual event is the Chamber’s flagship legislative event, designed to connect the business community with their elected officials to discuss legislative priorities for the upcoming year.
To view the full 2018 Public Policy Guide, visit greenvillechamber.org/advocacy/public-policy-agenda.
For more information or for questions about the Greenville Chamber’s business advocacy positions, please contact Jason Zacher, Senior Vice President of Business Advocacy, at 864-787-6608 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Upstate Chamber Coalition
In its second decade, the Upstate Chamber Coalition is the voice for Upstate business. Representing 11 local and regional chambers of commerce in eight Upstate counties, the group is singularly focused on making it easier to do business in the Upstate. For information, visit upstatechamber.org.