Small Business Bulletin 9/2/2003

Small Business Bulletin 9/2/2003

USC Hotel Battle Continues

Important Vote September 8th

The SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce’s opposition to the University of South Carolina’s proposed on-campus hotel turned to the radio airwaves this week. The Greater Columbia Hotel/Motel Association paid for radio ads that will run on three Columbia talk-radio stations from September 2-8. Featured in the ad is the Small Business Chamber’s executive director, Frank Knapp, who calls on the public to voice their objections to public agencies competing with the private sector. On September 8th, the City of Columbia Planning Commission will vote on USC’s zoning request to allow its hotel to be built without the required number of parking spaces. A “no” vote by this Commission will be very helpful in stopping the hotel effort.

Before September 8th, leave a message for the City of Columbia Planning Commission at (803) 545-3075 or write to them at P.O. Box 147, Columbia, SC 29217. Ask that they vote “no” on USC’s zoning request for reduced parking requirements.

Personnel Services Association Joins Chamber

The SC Association of Personnel Services has voted to join The SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce as a trade association member. Eleven trade associations are now members of the Small Business Chamber with several more considering joining soon. This brings the membership of the Small Business Chamber to well over 9000 small businesses, approximately one out of every ten businesses in the state with less than 100 employees.

Small Business Survey

Attached is a short survey that was developed from several meetings with local legislators to discuss issues of local interest. Please take the time to print the survey, fill it out and return it. We will use the information to guide us in developing additional issues for the next legislative session.

Lexington County Forum

The Small Business Chamber and the Lexington County Chronicle are sponsoring a small business forum in Lexington on Wednesday, September 17th, from 6 to 8 p.m. All Lexington County elected officials will be invited to attend the public forum to hear from the county’s small business community. Please mark your calendar for this event, which will be held at the Lexington County Library (5440 Augusta Road).

State Procurement Changes Recommended

The Governor’s Commission on Management, Accountability and Performance (MAP) is scheduled to meet this week. One of the recommendations the MAP Commission will hear is from the Procurement Subcommittee chaired by Lt. Governor Andre Bauer. The Small Business Chamber participated on Bauer’s subcommittee and suggested that state contracts take into consideration where the state dollars would be spent to determine which proposal offers South Carolina the “best value.” Contracts that keep more money in South Carolina would receive higher “best value” scores that could outweigh even a slightly higher upfront cost compared to other bids. The reason—every dollar spent in-state circulates through our economy numerous times through paychecks and South Carolina goods and services purchased as well as taxes paid to local and state government. This “follow the flow of the money” concept is important for keeping more state procurement dollars in the hands of South Carolina small businesses, a top priority of the Small Business Chamber. Each year the state spends approximately $1.3 billion out of state, 42% of the state procurement dollars reported to the Comptroller General’s Office.

Tort Reform–Venue

The Tort Reform Ad Hoc Study Committee of the House Judiciary Committee began meeting in August. This group is receiving input and discussing the many sub issues that make up the broader issue of tort reform. At the Ad Hoc Committee’s August 27th meeting to discuss venue (where a civil action can be brought) the Small Business Chamber suggested civil legal actions between businesses should be allowed only where the cause of action occurred, where the defendant has a place of business or where the plaintiff has a place of business. The latter provision was not included in tort reform legislation offered this past year. It is important for small businesses to have easy access to the civil process. Example: a small business in Charleston that has not been paid for services rendered to a large Greenville-based company should not have to hire an attorney in Greenville and travel to that county to seek a civil remedy to its problem. While big businesses, with staff attorneys and significant resources, have relatively easy access to the legal system, the expense associated with pursuing legal action outside its local area can be detrimental to a small business with a valid complaint.

Senator Graham Meets with Chair and Executive Director

The Small Business Chamber’s chairman, Tim Wilkes, and executive director, Frank Knapp, met with U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham last month to discuss the issue of small-group health insurance. Senator Graham is a key vote on a bill (S.545) that will be considered in the U.S. Senate very soon. The Small Business Chamber is opposing S.545, which would exempt Association Health Plans (AHP) from state health insurance law and oversight allowing them to be offered in every state. Finding a comprehensive solution to the crisis in small-group health insurance has been a top priority for the Small Business Chamber, which is working with the SC Department of Insurance to develop policy recommendations for a state solution.

The federal AHP legislation is not a “national solution” to the rising health insurance premiums in that it is not a solution for all small businesses and would only be another health insurance plan competing for the “cream of the crop” businesses. Consequently, this AHP legislation would only serve to further destabilize our small group health insurance market. This legislation is also opposed by the National Governor’s Association, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and 500 other national and local organizations. Senator Fritz Hollings has indicated his opposition to this legislation.

Please contact Senator Graham and ask him to oppose AHP legislation (S.545). Tell him that a “national solution” is not wanted if it does not hold down health insurance premiums for all small businesses. Contact Senator Graham at: 290 Russell Building, Washington, DC 20510. (202) 224-5972. Or you can write to Denise Bauld, Senator Graham’s health care and business liaison at denise_bauld@lgraham.senate.gov.

Small Business Development Center Programs

“Introduction to Winning Government Contracts Seminar” This seminar will be held on Friday, September 19 at the USC Moore School of Business in Columbia. The cost is $75 through September 10 and $99 from September 11. For more information go to: www.porterfieldcs.com/IGTWGCCola2.html.

“Assistance for Small Business Employers of Mobilized/Deployed National Guard And Reserve Members” World events have put unprecedented mission requirements on the National Guard and the Reserve. No doubt, mobilizations and deployments have placed a similar strain on small businesses that employ or are owned and operated by our Guardsmen and Reservists. The Frank L. Roddey Small Business Development Center is creating a program to assist both individual members of the reserve components and their civilian employers. Members of the Guard and the Reserve who own their own businesses may need assistance to keep the business up and running during mobilization or to reestablish it after mobilization. Small businesses that lose key employees during mobilization may benefit from this program as well. For information call the SC Small Business Development Center Director, John Lenti, at the USC Moore School of Business in Columbia, 803-777-3130.