Strengthening the regional voice
The MIDSTATE Chambers Coalition officially launched on March 15 with a press conference held at the State House in Columbia.
The coalition, representing 19 chambers of commerce in the mid section of South Carolina, will serve as a unified body to promote issues important to the growth and development of communities in the MIDSTATE region.
What began with informal discussions among local chamber representatives ten months ago led to the formation of the MIDSTATE Chambers Coalition. Numbers alone underscore the potential value of a regional voice among the chambers.
The MIDSTATE Chambers Coalition represents the following:
- 1.3 million South Carolinians
- workforce of 520,000
- more than 70,000 students enrolled in 19 colleges and universities
- 361 public and private schools
- 3 major military installations
- 8 full service hospitals with 2,500 beds
- at least 100 major employers
- 75 international companies
- more than 100 corporate headquarters
"When one puts all these numbers together, it speaks volumes to the economic engine that drives the Midstate region of South Carolina. This region is vital to our state and national economy and to our future," said J. David Jameson, president of the Aiken Chamber of Commerce.
"The formation of the MIDSTATE Coalition will give us the collective and strong voice we need to ensure we have a seat at the table when important issues that impact us are decided upon. We want to foster regional cooperation in order to build a competitive advantage and ultimately a stronger economic future," Jameson said.
The Coalition is made up of chambers from Richland, Lexington, Aiken, Orangeburg, Clarendon, Sumter, Kershaw, Fairfield, Newberry, Saluda, and Edgefield Counties.
The organization plans to analyze and summarize business related issues at appropriate forums and communicate priorities to members of the Legislative Delegation.
In addition, the Coalition will work with state elected officials to promote the business agenda of the Midstate region, identifying issues prior to each legislative session and working toward passage of the groups legislative agenda.
A planning retreat will be held later this year to begin framing the Coalition's issues for 2012. Business, civic, governmental, and education leaders will be among the invitees.
"If the Midstate of South Carolina is to prosper, we must all work together as South Carolinians to make that happen. We look forward to working with the business community, economic development leadership, and our elected officials to move the Midstate of South Carolina forward," said Chamber Chair Frank Thomas, Security Federal Bank. "We are excited about the idea of regional collaboration and what it could mean for our region."
Members of the MIDSTATE Chambers Coalition will not be precluded from working on policy initiatives with other entities and chambers outside of the coalition.