By: Nia Watson
COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) – Business leaders from across the state joined members of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce at the State House in Columbia Monday afternoon to announce the policies in their 2018 Competitiveness Agenda they will propose to lawmakers for the upcoming legislative session.
This year’s agenda focuses on tax reform and workforce development.
“We are hopeful that the business community is speaking loudly and clearly with one voice on the need for tax reform and additional efforts to try and train South Carolinians to do these jobs that we need filled here in South Carolina,” S.C. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ted Pitts said.
Business leaders said South Carolina has some of the highest business and personal income tax rates in the nation.
They’re asking lawmakers to reduce income tax burden on the state’s workforce that currently taxes workers’ income over $14,000 dollars at 7 percent.
“By lowering taxes, that’s going to enable us to have an opportunity to invest more capital into our business to grow our businesses,” S.C. Chamber of Commerce member Tim Norwood said.
Norwood, the former chairman of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce, said a competitive workforce through taxes and workforce development as a state means better business for the Pee Dee.
“Those things will help not only small businesses, but it will help us attract the large industries, manufacturing industries that we want to have in Florence and the Grand Strand,” Norwood said.
Norwood has deep ties in the Pee Dee, owning a few businesses in Florence, including the downtown restaurant Victors. He said finding qualified workers is a constant problem he faces.
“At my work, Victors, we are constantly looking for employees that have soft skills, as well as technical skills, to be able to work with us,” Norwood said. “It’s always a challenge.”
Increasing trainee programs, introducing putting ex-offenders back into the workforce, and fighting the current opioid crisis are just some ways business leaders plan to grow the state’s workforce development.
Norwood said while business in Florence is booming, there’s always room for more.
“All the Hondas that are made in the whole world, made in Florence. All the Tamiflu made in the world, made in Florence. All the GE magnets made in the world, made in Florence. So Florence is doing good, but we just want to do better,” Norwood said.
The South Carolina legislative session starts Tuesday.
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