The Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce unanimously voted to adopt two resolutions at its monthly board meeting last Thursday. President Chip Galloway, of Galloway Enterprises, presented one resolution on the John Hardee Expressway and one on sequestration.
The board voted to support the completion of the Airport Connector in Lexington County, known as John Hardee Expressway, and “encourages” the S.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) to fully fund the remaining needs of the “vital transportation and economic development project.”
Although the first phase, between Lexington County’s Airport Boulevard and Platt Springs Road, is complete, the second phase, Airport Boulevard to I-26, has yet to begin. Phase I cost $41 million, and included the engineering, “right of way,” environment clearance and permit for Phase II, which will cost an estimated $76.8 million. The Central Midlands Council of Governments (CMCG) is said to have “set aside” $13.7 million in federal and state transportation funds for the project.
Galloway said the John Hardee Expressway resolution will assist in improving infrastructure in our region to foster continued economic development which has the impact to also eventually spill over into Kershaw County as a result.
“Acting as a coalition in support of other coalition members not only impacts that area, but creates opportunities for Kershaw County to garner support if needed in the future,” Galloway said.
Phase II will reportedly create 350 construction jobs. The benefit-cost ratio is said to 4.5 to 1, according to the CMCG, but the resolution did not list the “costs.”
With the second resolution, the chamber board also voted to oppose a $1.2 trillion deficit cut split evenly between defense and non-defense discretionary spending -- $600 billion each -- known as sequestration.
In August 2011, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law that would put a cap on “non-defense discretionary spending” to reduce the federal deficit by $935 billion dollars over the next 10 years. The law also tasked a 12-member congressional Joint Select Committee with reviewing the federal budget and finding a way to cut an additional $1.5 trillion dollars by November of last year. The committee “deadlocked,” causing sequestration, an automatic form of spending cutbacks that occurs when a legislative group cannot agree on a plan for spending cut backs.
The cut will be implemented in January 2013 and will extend throughout a 10-year time period.
In the resolution, the chamber said it is the first priority of the federal government to provide for national defense and South Carolina’s “service members, bases, and defense contractors play an integral role in our nation’s defense.” The economic impact of three military bases in South Carolina -- Fort Jackson, Shaw Air Force Base, and McEntire Joint National Guard Base -- is about $13 billion annually; $7.1 billion floods the Midlands annually, according to the chamber’s resolution.
“Spending levels imposed by sequestration would severely impact the Defense Department budget, would lead to declined investment in Fort Jackson, Shaw Air Force Base, and McEntire Joint National Guard Base and could lead to another round of base closures and realignments... Be it resolved that the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce opposes further cuts to discretionary spending that hurt the mission of our troops at Ft. Jackson, Shaw Air Force Base, and McEntire Joint National Guard Base, or that further impact core local government programs,” the resolution states.
“As president of the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce, it is my duty to bring issues such as these before our board to help protect and serve economic interests that have the potential to also impact Kershaw County,” Galloway said. “The Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce would be remiss if we did not oppose sequestration. Any substantial negative impact to any of those installations, as a result of sequestration, would not only impact the cities in which those installations are located, but also surrounding communities with the ripple effect being felt right here in Kershaw County, Galloway said.
The chamber’s John Hardee Expressway resolution will be compiled with other chambers’ and presented to DOT; the sequestration resolution will be mailed to South Carolina’s U.S. senators and congressmen.
In other news:
• Kershaw County School District Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan updated the chamber on district happenings and gave a tour of the district office.
• Shot in the Dark, a nighttime golf tournament, will be held Oct. 25 at Green Hill Golf Club.
• An Educated Voter Forum will take place Oct. 29 with House District 52 and Senate District 35 candidates.