Mark Sanford: The Faux Small Business Governor

When Mark Sanford ran the first time for Governor, he promised to be the best friend of small business. Everything was about how he was going to help small business in this state grow and prosper.

We at the Small Business Chamber tried to work with his office for several years. But it always was Sanford’s way to help small business or nothing. And of course Sanford’s idea of helping small business turned out to be the same plan he gave for solving all problems—cut state spending and give him more authority over all state agencies.

As you can read in my blog about my friend Tim Wilkes, Sanford has never been about getting something done to help small business unless his big ideas got done first. When we were lobbying hard to pass an increase in the cigarette tax to give premium assistance to small businesses offering health insurance to low-income workers, Sanford went a different direction. He got a bill passed that he loudly proclaimed would help small business better afford health insurance. At the time I predicted that the plan was doomed to fail. Today not one business in this state has ever benefitted from Mark Sanford’s “health care reform”.

Now the latest in the Sanford small business “I’m here to help” folklore. He has vetoed the entire budget of the S.C. Small Business Development Center. Not just a decrease….the whole $523,121 budget.

Why? Because he claims that the SBDC does exactly the same things as the S.C. Department of Commerce.

Has the Governor ever met his Department of Commerce? They don’t do small business development. Never have in the entire history of the agency. They concentrate on big business recruitment, expansion and retention. Nothing wrong with that.

But the Department of Commerce doesn’t have offices around the state providing consultation to the would-be entrepreneur or help to a small business person figuring out how to survive a recession. They don’t teach how to do a business plan or help a small business find a government contract. That’s what the SBDC does.

All the SBDC success stories in 2009 of creating jobs and financing pale in comparison to one Boeing landed by Commerce. But the SBDC successes are day after day, not once every 20 years. And as I mentioned in my last blog, 64% of all the net new jobs created nationwide in the last 15 years came from small businesses.

For all Mark Sanford’s years’ of talk about small businesses being the backbone of our economy, he has never once put his money where his mouth is. Vetoing the SBDC budget is just more proof.


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