State Spends $1.3 Billion with Out-Of-State Businesses
South Carolina state agencies purchase over $1.3 billion a year in goods and services from out-of-state businesses according to information recently obtained by The SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce. The Office of Comptroller General conducted the research to generate the data at the request 9000-member statewide advocacy organization.
The Small Business Chamber believes that our state’s economy would be much stronger today if state government pumped this $1.3 billion a year into South Carolina small businesses. Sending 42% of our state procurement dollars out-of-state is simply not acceptable. We need to change the system to make it more accountable to our elected leaders and taxpayers.
In May, 21 state Senators co-sponsored a Concurrent Resolution proposed by the Small Business Chamber that called for every publicly funded group awarding a contract to an out-of-state business under the state procurement code to explain in detail why an in-state small business did not receive the contract. A month earlier, the Small Business Chamber had unsuccessfully protested the decision by the State Procurement Office to cancel all contracts with in-state small businesses for personal computers and instead deal directly with the computer manufacturers.
While there will always be some goods and services that can not be obtained in-state, our state’s small businesses can compete in price, service and quality for the vast majority of the State’s needs. What we don’t have are the big marketing dollars and the prestigious company names that can influence procurement purchases.
The $1.3 billion dollar figure is only an estimate based on two years data that has some flaws. Unfortunately, there is no central repository for all contracts under the state Procurement Code. Consequently, the State cannot provide accurate data on the size and locations of businesses receiving contracts. The Comptroller General’s information, while not perfect, is the best indicator of at least where the state dollars are being spent.
The Small Business Chamber is advocating that the State Procurement Code be used to promote the growth and development of our small businesses that typically get no part of the normal economic incentives for businesses offered by the state. Local governments should also be on this bandwagon. There is no information on how much of our local tax dollars go out-of-state instead of helping our small businesses.
Wilkes to Serve on DOR Advisory Board
The chairman of The SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce, Tim Wilkes, has been asked to serve on the SC Department of Revenue Advisory Board. Wilkes, who co-founded the Small Business Chamber, is a Certified Public Accountant and a former member of the SC House of Representatives. Wilkes also is a member of the Joint Committee on Taxation, a 9-member committee appointed by the Governor and Legislature, charged with the responsibility of reviewing the way the state raises revenue and making policy recommendations on tax structure.