Monday, October 5, 2009

It's time to think small on recovering from the recession

Bluffton Today

As usual, we got good calls last week, especially in response to my invitation for small businesses possibly looking for opportunity in the best part of the Lowcountry. If you are involved with a company, even in a small way, and have a contact person who might begin the exploratory process that could ultimately lead the firm to relocate, or even create an annex here, I need to hear from you.

Before our last legislative session, you heard from me an outline of why it was critical for your representative to find a seat on the Ways and Means Committee. You also learned that my sub-committee assignment was as chairman of the group tasked with locating and securing new and expanding businesses for our state.

My motivation in seeking these positions was so that I might bring a focus to my highest legislative priority, which is job creation. The recent economic downturn has added increased urgency to my mission. Chronically high unemployment has diminished our state in every way possible. It affects our tax structure, our social welfare obligations, and even our ability to reform in areas that require profound reworking.

In my view, if we can answer the challenge of creating the business climate that is conducive for economic expansion, we can put our folks to work. In fact, if each small business in South Carolina hired just one more worker, we would have zero unemployment. One of my strategies for addressing this challenge is to tailor economic incentives to bring small businesses to our area and our state.

From where I sit, we have an extensive toolbox with which to help potential partners to see the benefit of joining us. Whether it is attractive and affordable space in the Bluffton Tech Park, or flexible taxation, or the ability to access specialized worker training, we can get it done.

When everyone in our state that needs a job, has a job, I think we can begin to systematically work on other areas of need that cannot even be addressed as we lurch from crisis to crisis.

Speaking of crises, I plan on being a participant at the Alliance of Health Plans annual healthcare conference in December. I need to hear from you on this, as well. What are your ideas on how we can adjust the system to increase efficiency and lower costs? One of my reasons for attending this conference is to see if what I’m hearing from you bears any meaningful relationship to the presentations I will hear at the meeting. In any case, this will be something I will be reporting to you about.

It would be extremely helpful if I could go to the conference with good, solid, workable input from you as individuals, as business owners, or as retirees looking to protect and supplement your current healthcare provisions.

Finally, I had a wonderful visit with the fourth grade class at St. Gregory. It was a pleasure to speak with bright young people with inquisitive minds who also seem to understand that discipline and respect for teachers are prerequisites for a first rate education.

I also got to chat with my friend, Dr. Terry O’Neal, a renaissance man who teaches classic languages. Also impressive was the number of volunteers helping out in every classroom. The value of parental involvement with education cannot be overstated.