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Chamber joins Midstate coalition

Posted: February 18, 2011 4:14 p.m.
Updated: February 23, 2011 5:00 a.m.

The Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors unanimously agreed to join the Midstate Chambers Coalition at its Feb. 16 meeting. The board also voted to endorse the state Chamber of Commerce’s Competitiveness Agenda.

Chip Galloway, chamber vice president of business and community improvement said the coalition is a “focused group” of chambers in 11 counties.

“Right now, no financial commitment is required to join,” said Galloway, but what this coalition does is address issues in the Midlands. We’ve got a state chamber that does it for the state -- but this is a little more specific for us.”

Chamber Vice President of Finance Dennis Stuber added that joining the coalition would open communication in the Midlands and be a good opportunity to “put our voices together and show a unified front.”

Before the board cast their votes on whether or not they would also endorse the state chamber’s competitiveness agenda, Vice President of Tourism Teri Teed said she was on board with all but one part of that agenda: port dredging in Charleston.

“Dredging that harbor would cause serious environmental problems,” she said. “As far as the rest of it, I’m on board, but I don’t support that part of the package.”

Stuber said that port dredging in Charleston is critical because it would create more jobs for South Carolinians.

“The widening of the Panama Canal has opened up a lot of opportunities for shipping, and we’ve got a port today that is probably (in) the best position to take advantage of that,” Stuber said. “But the larger ships that are coming in don’t have enough space to come through during low tides. And the port development for this state would be a tremendous project for us. Not taking anything away from tourism, it’s obviously important, but jobs in South Carolina are also important.”

Agreeing with Stuber, member John Thomas said that he also felt that port dredging would ultimately be beneficial to the entire state.

“I’d like to reiterate what Dennis said, they don’t want to lose anything to Savannah. And they’ve lost a lot of business to Savannah over the year,” he said, adding that he understands the environmental concerns. “But (dredging) is very important; I was amazed at how critical that port is to the economics of South Carolina.”

Additional items included in the state chamber’s competitiveness agenda were regulatory relief, government restructuring, tax reform, economic and workforce development, placing a cap on punitive damages and ensuring that environmental guidelines are no more stringent than U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines.

Ultimately, although some members said there were small parts of the agenda that they did not agree with, the board unanimously voted to endorse the state chamber’s competitiveness agenda in its entirety.

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