Forums to put focus on small businesses

Published April 20, 2000

By Maurice Thomas, The State

Small-business owners will get a chance to tell South Carolina legislators what’s on their minds in a series of eight forums to be held around the state.

Gov. Jim Hodges and members of the Legislature Wednesday joined representatives from the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce to announce the forums that will be sponsored b the chamber and the Governor’s Office.

The forums will take place at technical colleges around the state. The first is scheduled for July 29 at the Midlands Technical College Airport Campus in West Columbia. Three more forums are scheduled in late July and early August in Pendleton, North Charleston and Rock Hill. Dates and locations for the four remaining forums will be announced later.

Sponsors said the events would give small business owners a chance to voice concerns about issues such as tax and building incentives that are often given to large companies but not small businesses.

The small-business forums will be similar to 13 meetings held last year on senior-citizen issues. A report on the meetings will be forwarded to the Legislature and Hodges.

The forums will show how state government can be a more effective partner for small businesses, Hodges said. Members of the small-business chamber board and small-business owners Sherman Anderson of Columbia and Kim Rogers of Greenville said the forums would be an important tool for getting business owners’ issues before lawmakers.

Small business is the backbone of the economy, said Rep. Tim Wilkes, chairman of the small business chamber.

Of about 100,000 businesses in the state, only 4,500 have more than 100 workers, according to the Small Business Development Center.

However, between 45,000 and 50,000 of the state’s businesses have 20 or fewer employees. Small businesses made South Carolina, but lawmakers aren’t looking out for them, said Rep. Jake Knotts, R-Lexington.

“It’s a great opportunity to help the small business owners,” Knotts said. Big businesses can afford lobbyists.

With the Small Business Chamber and the upcoming forums, small business will have its place at the table, he said.

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