SC Chamber Grassroots Tour Makes Stop In Lexington

September 13, 2016 | Posted By: Connor Watkins

September Breakfast

The 2016 South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Grassroots Tour made a stop in Lexington Tuesday for the monthly breakfast.

The Grassroots Tour is a partnership between the State and your local Chamber, giving SC Chamber President and CEO Ted Pitts the opportunity to address business communities around the state about important issues and also get feedback from those business people.

This constitutes the process the state Chamber uses to develop its competitiveness agenda each year. The tour includes 15 stops hitting all regions of the state during September and October.

“We put together those issues that the business community wants to see our public policy makers address. We get feedback from our members. We get feedback from our local chamber partners and their members from across the state,” Pitts said. “Our LATF – our public policy committee vets that and then our board debates it and decides what’s on our competitiveness agenda.”

Last year’s competitiveness agenda had three items, including the perennial issue of infrastructure. With roads being an issue every year, infrastructure is a mainstay on the competitiveness agenda.

“The general assembly is starting to hear us and putting resources on our infrastructure. The bill that passed last year provides about $4 billion – a lot of money. As far as roads go, it goes a long way with our interstates and our bridges, but doesn’t provide enough support for our secondary roads,” Pitts said. “We’re hoping this year we can continue to provide the impetus to ultimately get something done. They haven’t provided that sustainable revenue stream that long-term will be able to solve the problem.”

September 16 Breakfast 2

Members were given the chance to address Pitts directly with their business issues with the help of moderator Troy Simpson of MCEC (right).

The second issue on last year’s agenda was workforce, which is utmost importance to business leaders across the state, according to Pitts.

“When I talk to CEO’s around the state it’s number one on their list whether it’s a big business, a small business, whether it’s manufacturing or banking. When you look at the issues we have on the workforce front, it is a concern to employers and businesses about workforce needs,” he said. “Some of it is as simple as I need people who can pass a drug test and show up to work on time. And then others it’s as complex as the skill set needed to do the diversified manufacturing that we do now requires a higher level of skills and we’re not finding the applicants that meet those skill requirements.”

The third issue on last year’s competitiveness agenda centered around business licensing and making it a more streamlined, user-friendly process.

“It’s one of the most unfriendly business things here in SC that we do,” Pitts said of the issue that came out of the grassroots meetings. “We’re working to standardize that.”

Pitts also reminded the audience about the importance of the upcoming election in November when eight new state Senators and 18 new House members will be elected.

Pitts also talked about some of the year’s legislative success, including the SC Farm Aid Fund.

“In rural SC there’s not a lot of economic development, and if we don’t preserve those farmers and their ability to survive, then we’re going to have problems, more problems than we currently have in rural SC,” he said. “We felt that was important to have that relief for our farmers.”

They were also able to help block a bill to repeal South Carolina’s Right to Work status.

The state Chamber is gathering feedback and working toward creating this year’s competitiveness agenda with a November 17 deadline to have it settled.

The breakfast was sponsored by The SEFA Group and catered by Crescent Moon Restaurant.