Every organization needs a mission statement or guiding principles to give a framework for action. This year, the Business Advocacy department of the Greenville Chamber and the Upstate Chamber Coalition are operating under a set of five guiding principles so we can more effectively advocate for you at the Statehouse.
As I have written before, when times are good, business leaders know we must invest in our future and resist efforts to maintain the status quo. When times are good, you invest in new technology, training for your employees, and other capital improvements so you can expand and be successful in the future. The same should apply to state government. We have (as of this writing) nearly $1.3 billion in new money in the state general fund. We need to invest this money in infrastructure, education, and workforce initiatives so our state can continue our robust economic expansion (and improve economic indicators that continue to lag, such as our per-capita income).
Our first guiding principle relates to infrastructure. We need an effective, well-funded transportation network to accelerate economic growth. I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about it. I’m getting tired of talking about it. It is years past the time when our leaders must have stepped up to increase funding for roads. The gas tax hasn’t increased since 1987. You couldn’t run your business charging 1987 prices, could you?
Our second guiding principle is that we must have a well-funded and efficient education system from early childhood to post-college training. The University of South Carolina estimates there will be 114,000 South Carolina jobs unfilled by 2030 if we don’t invest in education and workforce training. Those are jobs that will go to other states.
The third guiding principle is that we support initiatives to grow and nurture our entrepreneurs and existing businesses. Our home-grown talent is already here, already creating jobs, and already boosting our economy. It’s great to lure a Toray, Volvo, Boeing, BMW, or Michelin to South Carolina, but there aren’t many of those big fish in a sea full of competition. If we support these local entrepreneurs and boost our existing businesses, we will see far more sustainable economic growth.
Our fourth principle is new this year. We are reaching out to partners across the Upstate – and in the Lowcountry – to work on pro-tourism legislation. Tourists spend $1.1 Billion in Greenville, and provide $64.5 million in tax revenue. Tourism supports 9,500 local jobs. That’s a huge industry, and if it was a sole company providing that economic impact, we would do just about anything to lure them here. Yet, they’re already here and thriving.
The final principle is something else I’ve written about before – the need for good government. We support the House of Representatives’ plans for ethics reform that have stalled in the South Carolina Senate. A democracy can’t function properly if the people don’t trust government. That trust has taken some big hits over the last five years, but the fixes are easy, doable, and common-sense.
These aren’t the only things we’re working on this year: there are a number of worker’s compensation reforms, several critical judicial elections, and other efforts to reduce red tape. We thank you for lending your voice to this process when we created this agenda last fall, and encourage your ongoing participation.
If you’d like to participate in our legislative , transportation, environmental, or healthcare committees, please contact Katie Busbee. Our legislative committee meets the first Friday of each month at 8 a.m., the transportation committee meets the second Friday of each month at 8 a.m., the environmental committee meets the fourth Tuesday at 8 a.m., and the healthcare committee meets the fourth Thursday at 8 a.m. Check out our Advocacy spring calendar for more details on events.
Upcoming Committee Meeings: