Skip to main content

Greenville Business Magazine

What do you think the Upstate Chamber Coalition priorities should be in 2019?

Sep 05, 2018 09:55AM ● By Emily Stevenson
By Jason Zacher
Senior Vice President of Business Advocacy, Greenville Chamber
Executive Director, Upstate Chamber Coalition

Two years ago, the Upstate business community set out an ambitious policy agenda that we believed would take several years to accomplish. That plan was complicated by the sudden departure of Gov. Nikki Haley and the uncertainty that surrounded the transition.

Despite those challenges, we had many successes during the past session, and these successes will allow businesses of all sizes to continue to expand and power our region’s booming economy for years to come. Now it’s time to talk about 2019, even though the previous session isn’t completely over.

We’re proud to say that our two top priorities—the road funding legislation last year and the workforce expansion legislation this year—are now law. A stronger infrastructure means people can reach work, health care, and education more easily, while customers can get to stores and businesses can move goods to market. Our workforce expansion legislation will help clean the records of low-level, non-violent offenders and boost our region’s workforce. This will help businesses find the workers they need in this extremely tight employment market.

The constant, relentless pressure from real businesses—real neighbors and real constituents, not big-money out-of-state groups—makes a difference in Columbia. The Upstate business community is flexing its muscle in the General Assembly, and the results are clear. Thank you for everything you did to help your priorities become law in 2017 and 2018. We hope you will continue your activism in 2019 so the Upstate will continue to be the best place to start or locate a business.

That begins with lending your voice to our 2019 agenda.

The Greenville Chamber and Upstate Chamber Coalition use an intentional process to gather information from anyone who is a stakeholder in our policy work. We are mindful that while we represent our nearly 10,000 investors, our Coalition’s work benefits every business and resident in the Upstate.

As I wrote last year on these pages: The Upstate Chamber Coalition is committed to creating an inclusive agenda that will benefit everyone in our region, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, class, religion, age, party affiliation, and business size. By bringing in voices from across the spectrum, we strive to build a non-partisan agenda that is focused on our community.

Strong communities are anchored by a strong business sector. Pro-business policy will make the Upstate a globally competitive economy where businesses succeed and people prosper.

When the end of a two-year legislative session comes around, it wipes the slate clean and we must start over.

We know that in 2019 we’ll focus on a few things that didn’t become law in 2018—affordable housing, tax credits for investors in high-impact companies, and critical lawsuit abuse reforms that will benefit every business.

But we can’t advocate for anything if we don’t know the challenges and opportunities that you face. So whether you ship your goods across the street or around the world or whether you opened a store in Greenwood or a brewery in Travelers Rest, we need to hear from you.

If your growing business is facing government barriers thrown up from city hall, the Statehouse, or Washington, we need to hear from you.

In the coming weeks, you will see invitations from your local Chambers about our Upstate Chamber Coalition “listening tour” stops across the Upstate. We’ll work with each local Chamber in our Coalition, as well as meet with as many of our industry groups that we can—small businesses, manufacturers, engineers, homebuilders, call centers, etc.

When those meetings are over, you should receive an invitation to participate in our legislative survey in October.

If you are unable to make these meetings, please let us know how government impacts your business. Never hesitate to email or call our team. You can go to to reach us.