Using data compiled through a survey of its members and at meetings throughout the Palmetto State in 2015, officials from the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce put together a 2016 Competitiveness Agenda that contains a comprehensive listing of concerns the chamber's board will use as its members decide what issues will be brought up in the next legislative session.
Items highlighted in this year's agenda are infrastructure funding, workforce development and business licensing reform.
“After months of traveling the state and listening to businesses of all sizes, the chamber board agrees with what we heard at our grassroots meetings," Ted Pitts, president and CEO of the South Carolina Chamber, said. "We need our elected officials to focus on finding solutions to the two most important issues facing the business community: unreliable infrastructure and the skills gap. In addition to those two items, our members believe that statewide standardized business licensing will ensure South Carolina remains competitive."
When putting the agenda together, it became apparent workforce development was an issue on the minds of many chamber members and residents of South Carolina.
"The South Carolina Chamber reaffirms its position that workforce development is critical to the success of our state," the agenda said. "We will continue to push for the necessary changes and improvements to ensure a capable, productive, and sustainable workforce."
The chamber suggests doing this by forming a sweeping, easily-understood Statewide Plan for Workforce Development, which would include financial support for skills training, sharing of resources between technical colleges and career and technology centers and expansion of dual credit courses.
“In addition to improving infrastructure and reforming business licensing, the chamber calls on the General Assembly to prioritize workforce development," John Uprichard, chairman of the South Carolina Chamber and president of Find Great People, said. "Specifically, the chamber supports streamlining workforce development programs so we can better address the skills gap South Carolina is facing. While the chamber will continue to promote pro-business, pro-growth policies this legislative session, we have placed priority on workforce and infrastructure."
Chamber members surveyed felt infrastructure was important because it affects not only economic growth, but the safety and quality of life of those who live in the Palmetto State. Many chamber members indicated they would like to see more government accountability and better funding mechanisms for the repair of the state's roads and bridges.
"We will advocate for the General Assembly to diversify the revenue stream in order to create a sustainable long-term funding mechanism instead of one that is excessively dependent on the gas tax," the agenda said.
Chamber officials also want to see business licensing standardized in South Carolina with "a uniform application, renewal dates and standard classifications," the agenda said.
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