Promoting small business development just a fraction of the cost of Boeing incentives

South Carolina state officials are reported to have been secretively putting together an incentive package to lure Boeing into manufacturing its new 777X jet in the Palmetto state. In addition to the prestige of expanding Boeing’s presence and employment in the state (which has already cost South Carolina $570 million in incentives to date), 2000 new jobs could be created in the Charleston area.

The media and politicians find this big-business recruitment process to be exiting. But this week another proposal was made that would also result in thousands of new jobs in the state and would cost only a tiny fraction of what a new Boeing incentive package would cost. This proposal went largely unrecognized by the press.

On Tuesday Senate Bill 806 was prefiled that would create a Division of Small Business and Entrepreneurial Development within the S.C. Department of Commerce. While the sponsors of the bill were every member of the S.C. Senate Democratic Caucus, there is plenty of room for bipartisanship support for this legislation.

The idea for this new Division dedicated to helping small business growth in the state is loosely modeled after successful programs in Georgia and North Carolina. The Division would be charged to:

(1) develop and implement an economic development strategy for promoting small businesses in South Carolina, including, but not limited to, new business start-up, entrepreneurial development, and growth strategies for currently existing small businesses; and
(2) provide community-based economic development assistance to local economic development organizations and community leaders in small business and entrepreneurial development strategies.

The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce has been championing this idea since 2006 but has met with resistance from our economic development officials. Hopefully this recent interest in throwing more big money at Boeing will focus attention on how just a small amount of money can do just as good a job or better in growing our local economies statewide through promoting small business development.

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