Chamber news in brief . . .
Members and the community are most familiar with the Chamber providing networking events for its members, community information and relocation resources. However, the Chamber is also involved on a regular basis in other areas that are not as visible. Below is a brief update on some of the lesser known activities of the Chamber.
Economic Opportunity and Market Growth –
Participated in public input sessions for the Whiskey Road Corridor Study. Nearly 20,000 vehicles travel Whiskey Road each weekday. The Whiskey Road Corridor Study will provide a future vision that improves safety, stormwater management, traffic congestion, access management and sync future growth with the capabilities of the transportation system.
Contributed to the City of Aiken’s Comprehensive Plan development process at public input sessions. The comprehensive plan is intended to serve as both a physical and policy plan to guide the City over the next 10 to 20 years. The Chamber specifically looked for unintended consequences to business vitality in the economic development section of the multi-part document.
Regional Advocacy and Community Focus –
Advocated with other area chambers of commerce to place the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam under the auspices of the Savannah Harbor deepening project to provide funding for the 80 year old deteriorating structure. The dam allows the community to use the river for recreational, tourism, public utility and industrial purposes by creating a stable, deeper body of water. Facilities such as Kimberly Clark in Aiken County rely on this pool of water for its operations.
Collaborated with other chamber presidents in the Mid-State Chambers Coalition to develop the 2017 legislative agenda for the region. This combined voice is a powerful way to communicate with elected representatives about what is important to the mid-state area.
Hosted a grassroots meeting of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce to gather input from the local community to take to state legislatures. Items discussed at the Aiken meeting, as well as those from the other sessions across the state, will be compiled together and presented to the South Carolina Chamber Board of Directors. They will then use those policies to create their legislative agenda for 2017.
Leadership and Impact –
Supported the bipartisan measure in collaboration with the U.S. Chamber to include the Small Business Health Care Relief Act (H.R. 5447/S. 3060) in legislation before the end of the year. This would once again give small businesses the ability to offer pretax dollars to their employees to help out with their health care costs. This was sent to Congress Nov. 14.
President/CEO J. David Jameson led the Dublin-Laurens County (GA) Chamber of Commerce board retreat as they set a new course for the future.
President/CEO J. David Jameson was the keynote speaker at the Bamberg County Chamber of Commerce 50th Annual Dinner Nov. 17. Jameson was the Executive Director of the organization for its 9th and 10th annual dinners.
Business Training and Education
Educated the industry and service sector businesses on the value of high school apprenticeships. The Aiken Chamber has been convening groups of employers to learn about the opportunities available for workforce development through apprenticeships in their organizations. This project is in cooperation with Aiken County Public Schools, Economic Development Partnership, Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization, SC Department of Commerce, Aiken Technical College, USC Aiken and Apprenticeship Carolina.