Growing the economy bottom up

Over 50 people, providers of services to microbusinesses and legislators, listened with great attention to presentations for 1 ½ hours yesterday in the Blatt Office Building on the State Capital grounds. It wasn’t because we fed them into a sedated state (although the food from @116 on State Street in West Columbia was very good).

No, they were there on a mission—to hear about the great potential of microenterprises (businesses with less than 5 employees and started with less than $35,000), the need for more technical assistance and lending resources, and the potential benefits of forming a state organization to advance enterprise development in the state.

Representative Kenneth Hodges’ leadership and passion was evident. His legislative resolutions to establish a microenterprise development study committee and name June as South Carolina’s microenterprise development month have been very important in moving the agenda forward.

The highlight of the afternoon was hearing from Connie Evans, President and CEO of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), the national nonprofit organization and business trade association representing the U.S. microenterprise development industry. What Connie gives up in height she more than makes up for in a dynamic, inspiring presentation that had the audience fixated on her words.

Left to Right: Haidee Stith, Representative Kenneth Hodges, Connie Evans and Frank Knapp, Jr..

 The overwhelming response from those at the meeting was to pursue a state microenterprise association. With some vital support from AEO, we have an opportunity to lift the state’s economy from the bottom up by growing our most abundant category of businesses in the state, microenterprises.

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