Business people in Upstate welcome new law on vendor incentives

By Titus Ledbetter III | Independent Mail

Published June 18, 2009

ANDERSON — Some Upstate South Carolina people are rejoicing over a new law that provides incentives for out-of-state vendors to work with small businesses in the state.

The South Carolina General Assembly voted Tuesday to override Gov. Mark Sanford’s veto of Senate Bill 116. The governor had successfully vetoed the bill the year before.

Frank Knapp, the president of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, said the state lacked incentives.

“It will benefit our economy to leave tax dollars in South Carolina,” Knapp said.

He said that if an out-of-state contractor pledges 20 percent of its budget toward working with South Carolina businesses, the contractor will receive a 2 percent incentive in the bidding process. The contractor’s bid will be automatically reduced 2 percent to help it compete.

Contractors that pledge 40 percent of its budget toward South Carolina businesses would receive a 4 percent incentive.

Lee Luff, the president of the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce, said the law will generate revenue for businesses, create job growth and increase state tax revenue.

“Any investment that will help out small businesses in South Carolina is good news for small businesses,” Luff said. “It is important because it creates a level playing field so our small businesses can compete within the state and with businesses out of the state.”

Sanford wrote a letter to Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer on June 2 saying that the legislation would erect barriers to businesses that had the best price and service. He wrote that the government should not be “picking winners.”

Sanford also wrote that the bill would make the state pay up to 10 percent more for government contracts.

“We’re obviously disappointed the veto was overridden,” wrote Joel Sawyer, the spokesman for the governor, in an e-mail message on Thursday.

Sen. Billy O’Dell of Ware Shoals said he was happy to see the bill pass. He owns the O’Dell Corporation, a cleaning supply company, and said business for his small company recently fell 10 to 15 percent. The company employs about 130 people.

“It will help to retain business and jobs in South Carolina,” O’Dell said. “It is protectionism of the industry that we will have in South Carolina. I don’t have a problem with it.”

O’Dell represents District 4, which includes Abbeville, Anderson and Greenwood counties. He said small-business people in his district are in as much need as the rest of the country.

Sen. Kevin Bryant Anderson said he voted against overriding of the veto because he thought out-of-state contractors should only get a half percent incentive. He said he did agree with the basic premise of the bill.

“It will mean vendors in this state get a preference,” Bryant said. “That is a good thing. It will help businesses and employ South Carolinians.”

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