Published on February 5, 2012

By Charles Warner, Editor |The Union Daily Times

Last in a series

A program that supports entrepreneurs and small businesses, a partnership between government and industry that promotes manufacturing, and community-based healthcare should receive financial support from the State of South Carolina in fiscal 2012-2013 according to the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce(SCSBCC).

In discussing his organization’s legislative agenda, SCSBCC President Frank Knapp also discussed the need for the state to provide and/or continue to provide funding for programs that promote economic development through the support of new and existing small businesses and manufacturing. The SCSBCC is also calling for the legislature to funds for a program that provides community-based healthcare, especially in rural areas of South Carolina.

Small Business Development Center

The SCSBCC is calling for the Small Business Development Center program to again befunded by the state. The organization’s website describes the program as a statewide network of 17 local centers that promotes economic development by providing consulting services to new and existing small businesses.

“The Small Business Development Centers are an important part of what South Carolina does to promote entrepreneurship and small business growth,” Knapp said. “They provide consultation, often free, to individuals and small business owners who either want to start a small business, grow a small business and even save a small business. They also help owners develop their loan package that they will present to a financial institution.”

In the Upstate, there are four centers located in Spartanburg, Greenville, Clemson and Greenwood. The Spartanburg Small Business Development Center can be reached at (864) 592-6318 or www.uscbiz.net.

Knapp said the legislature is being asked to allocated $491,000 for the program in the coming fiscal year.

Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Continued funding for the SC Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP) is another budgetary priority for the SCSBCC. The organization’s website describes it “as a non-profit organization supported through a partnership of federal, state, and local government, and manufacturing industry to promote economic growth, increased jobs, and global market contributions of small and mid-size manufacturers”

Knapp said the SCMEP provides consultative services to the overwhelming majority of the state’s manufacturers, most of whom employ less than 100 workers,

“Manufacturing is a critical area for South Carolina if it is to develop economically,” Knapp said. “Ninety percent of manufacturers in South Carolina have less than 100 employees. These small manufacturers do not have the financial resources to hire the professional consultants that big manufacturers can. So the MEP provides affordable professional consultation to our small manufacturers utilizing expert consultants in the state.”

Knapp said the SCMEP is asking for $2.2 million in state funding. He added that while the SCMEP operates out of its main office in Columbia, it has personnel who travel throughout the state assisting manufacturers who request the organization’s help.

For more information about the SCEMEP and its services call (803) 252-6976 or go online at www.scmep.org.

SouthCarolina Primary Health Care Association

The SCSBCC is also supporting $5 million in state funding for the South Carolina Primary Health Care Association which Knapp said provides a vital health care resource for small businesses and their employees.

“We have long been supporters of community health centers, they provide needed health care throughout much of South Carolina that is affordable and convenient for our residents and workers,” Knapp said. “It is important for our small employers that they have healthy employees and since the majority of our small businesses can’t afford to offer health insurance, the community health centers provide access to affordable health care for the employees.”

The South Carolina Primary Health Care Association consists of 19 community health centers that provide community-based care including primary care, prevention, education, and case management. They represent public and private partnerships working together to improve the health status of their respective communities.The SCSBCC website states that the requested funding is not only a health care issue but an economic one for many rural areas in South Carolina since some community health centers are experiencing reductions in staff.

For more information about the South Carolina Primary Health Care Association go online at www.scphca.org.

The SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce is a statewide advocacy organization with more than 5,000 members that works to make state government more small business friendly. The Small Business Chamber is both non-partisan and non-profit. It does not endorse candidates for public office nor contribute to political campaigns. It is not affiliated with any other chamber of commerce. For more information about the Small Business Chamber of Commerce call (803) 252-5733 orgo online at www.scsbc.org

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