3-city immigration event spreads the word for needed reform to help small businesses


Frank Knapp

Press Release
July 1, 2021

Columbia, SC—The South Carolina Small Business Chamber (SCSBCC) and the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) successfully completed press events on June 30th in Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston.  Frank Knapp, president and CEO of the SCSBCC, announced that his chamber was joining the ABIC and called on South Carolina US Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott to support commonsense immigration reforms.

In his prepared comments (below) Mr. Knapp pointed out that “specific reforms on the table today and in the future will help us address serious problems that we face here in South Carolina and across the country”—a labor shortage and a 40-year low in new business startups.

Mr. Knapp spoke of “demographic stagnation”, decreasing and aging population, in the United States that results in fewer young workers the economy needs.  He asked Senators Graham and Scott to work for passage of legislation needed to allow Dreamers, immigrants brought into the country illegally when they were children, to have a path to citizenship and unleash their full potential to help our economy both in the labor force and also as entrepreneurs.

Mr. Knapp called for legislation to allow for a moderate increase in legal immigration of working-age adults that would also address the workforce issue and bring the entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants that we need.

Mr. Yahel Flores, Carolinas State Director for ABIC spoke at each event.  A total of 19 other speakers participated in the events in their cities and represented immigrant small-business owners, Hispanic business organizations, the restaurant and lodging industry, Dreamers, faith leaders and the agricultural industry.



Thanks for coming here today.

My name is Frank Knapp.  I am the president and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce which I co-founded 21 years ago.

Today I am announcing that our organization is joining the American Business Immigration Coalition, a growing business organization that is promoting commonsense immigration reform in Washington.

Specific reforms on the table today and in the future will help us address two serious problems that we face here in South Carolina and across the country.

Number one, we have a labor shortage.  This has been a hot topic in our state and nationally with numerous causations being given.  But the reality is that our country is experiencing “demographic stagnation”.  We’re simply not producing the young people we need for skilled and less-skilled jobs.

So how do we address this problem.

First, we should be tapping into the young people who have lived here almost all their lives and want to contribute to our economy more fully.

I’m talking about the million Dreamers, immigrants brought here as children who continue to face roadblocks to their education and employment while still being threatened with deportation.

These are our youth who we need for our economy.

That’s why we are calling on our South Carolina Senators Tim Scott and Lindsay Graham to support bipartisan immigration solutions NOW that will expand our workforce, give certainty to families, and boost the economy at a time when businesses are finding it difficult to find workers across every sector.

Passing the bipartisan Durbin-Graham Dream Act of 2021, the SECURE Act and the Bennett Crapo Senate Companion Bill to the Farm Workforce Modernization Act bills would provide a path to legal status for immigrants brought here as children, recipients of Temporary protected status and farmworkers. It would grant them the stability they need to fully unleash their potential to help our economy.

Second, we need to address our labor shortage brought on by “demographic stagnation” with commonsense immigration policy reform.

Other countries in Asia, Europe and even Central America are also experiencing deceasing and aging populations.  Their economies are also being threatened.

However, the United States is more fortunate than these other countries in that we have a ready solution to the problem.  People around the world want to live and work in our country.  Our long-term answer to today’s labor shortage is a sensible immigration policy to allow for higher levels of legal immigration of working-age adults.

And these same two immigration policy reforms will also address another serious problem in our country.

Our nation is at a 40-year low in new business startups. Small businesses employ about half of all workers and, according to economists, create all net new jobs in the country.

This small business startup crisis is real.

We need more entrepreneurship to grow our economy. Entrepreneurship enables our rural and underserved communities to grow from the bottom up.

Immigrants bring to our country a great entrepreneurial spirit.  A modest increase in the number of immigrants legally entering the U.S. combined with citizenship for Dreamers will help us get out of our 40-year low startup slump.

Senators Scott and Graham – we urge you to exert your influence to move Congress forward and support the bipartisan Durbin-Graham Dream Act of 2021 to provide a path to legal status for immigrants brought here as children. Cosponsor the SECURE Act to provide a path for immigrants who were granted Temporary Protected Status as they fled tyranny and natural disasters. Support the Crapo-Bennet Senate companion bill to the Farm Workforce Modernization Act to ensure immigrant farmworkers and their employers can continue putting food on our tables. And provide the leadership to find the other commonsense immigration policies that that we need to address our workforce problems and entrepreneurship.

It’s good for small business.  It’s good for our economy.  And it’s good for our country.

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