Small Business Bulletin 10/13/04

Small Business Bulletin 10/13/04

SCE&G SEEKS ANOTHER ELECTRIC RATE HIKE
Small Business Chamber President to Intervene

SCE&G is asking the Public Service Commission for an overall 5.66% increase on electric rates, which would include a 3.3% hike on small businesses. In 2002, SCE&G was granted an 8% increase on small business rates after The SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce intervened to protest the 14% hike the company originally requested. The president of the Small Business Chamber, Frank Knapp, will be intervening in the PSC hearing starting November 1 to question the need for the rate increase. Any reduction in the $81.2 million a year in additional revenue sought by SCE&G should mean a smaller rate increase for small businesses.

STATE AGENCY VOWS NOT TO COMPETE WITH PRIVATE BUSINESS
Sets Up Mechanism to Address Any Problems

This past legislative session, the Small Business Chamber shook up state agencies with its legislative push to curtail public entities from competing in the private sector with businesses. Many state agencies protested against the unsuccessful bill. However, one has stepped forward to forge a cooperative, not competitive, relationship with small businesses.

The SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department initiated a meeting with the Small Business Chamber to discuss this issue and followed up with a letter of understanding. In that letter, Commissioner Larry C. Bryant states that it is “essential that the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department maintain a positive working relationship with small businesses throughout the state. . . . It is never the intent of the Department to compete with private industry.”

Commissioner Bryant has committed his agency to meet with any business that believes it is facing competition from his Department. The purpose of the meeting would be to share information and discuss the matter to resolve the issue to both parties’ satisfaction. The Small Business Chamber will gladly act as a broker for such a meeting and attend the meeting to assist the concerned business. For more information call 803-252-5733.

WORKERS COMP PREMIUMS TARGET OF TASK FORCE
Small Business Chamber Takes Initiative

In September, the Small Business Chamber brought together experts on the Workers Compensation system in a workshop for Chamber members representing numerous trade associations. The goal was to educate the participants on the Workers Comp system and identify the cost drivers of premiums. A task force was created to develop a consensus plan before January to address the problem legislatively or otherwise. The task force met this week and has developed a list of issues needing attention. Approaches for resolving the identified issues will be developed before the task force meets again in November. The task force recommendations will then be presented to the Board of the Small Business Chamber for consideration as part of our legislative agenda.

A special thanks for helping with the workshop goes to the SC Association of Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors, the SC Trial Lawyers Association and the Home Builders Association of SC.

GIVE SMALL BUSINESSES INCENTIVES TO SPUR RURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Faced with the daunting task of developing a plan for improving the economic plight of the state’s most distressed and under developed counties, a 10-member Ad Hoc House Task Force asked the Small Business Chamber for input. The Small Business Chamber has encouraged the Task Force to try approaches aimed at helping small businesses, not just big businesses. “One hundred new jobs created by 75 small businesses surely are just a valuable as the same number of new jobs created by only one business,” stressed Frank Knapp, president of the Small Business Chamber.

Specifically for designated rural counties, the Task Force was asked to consider job tax credits for small businesses that create any number of new jobs and job retraining credits to promote registered apprenticeships in small businesses. Both of these current programs are now essentially only available for big businesses. Other recommendations to help small businesses were for counties to enact procurement policies that result in more tax dollars staying in the community and state, better utilize federal Workforce Investment Act money, reduce local business taxes and fees and create Small Business Regulatory Review Committees. The letter and document provided to the Task Force can be found at http://www.scsbc.org/view_issue.asp?id=20.

COLUMBIA GIVES SMALL BUSINESS REGULATORY REVIEW

What’s good for the State might just work for local government also. That is how Columbia Mayor Bob Coble felt when he proposed that his city create a Small Business Regulatory Review Committee modeled after legislation passed by the General Assembly this past session. The purpose of the Regulatory Review Committee is to give small businesses a chance to look at proposed regulations and make recommendations as to how they might be changed to lessen any negative impact on small businesses.

At Mayor Coble’s request, the Small Business Chamber, which had worked to pass the state legislation, provided information on how the City of Columbia could establish the Regulatory Review Committee. Frank Knapp, president of the Small Business Chamber, spoke in favor of the proposal at a City Council meeting, after which the Council voted to create the Regulatory Review Committee. Columbia is the first South Carolina local government to formally establish such a Committee to help small businesses.

SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER OFFERS FALL SEMINARS

The SC Small Business Development Center is holding seminars this fall that may be of interest. Area offices offer seminars and training courses on numerous topics. These courses are taught by faculty, staff, and professionals in industry and government. Some courses have a minimal registration fee, others are free of charge. For more information go to: http://mooreschool.sc.edu/moore/usc-dc/seminars/seminars.htm