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Addressing Federal Issues of Competitiveness

Posted by: Chamber Investor on Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Supporting free trade and opposition to escalating tariffs. Advocating for a fully-funded and staffed U.S. Commercial Service. Expressing support for continued operation of the Export-Import Bank. Using each of these tools to support the growth and competitiveness of our region’s 1,843 manufacturers.

Earlier this month, we visited Capitol Hill and discussed these issues with staff members of our region’s Senate and Congressional representatives.

Our series of meetings was conducted while in Washington, D.C., for the Upstate Chamber Coalition’s National Issues Forum from Sept. 5-7.

We were pleased to sponsor the trip, which drew nearly 50 Upstate leaders, with representation from cities and chambers in Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson. Additional Alliance investors on the trip included representatives from Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative, BMW, Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, Greenville Technical College, GreerWalker, Ogletree Deakins, Nelson Mullins and SC Technology and Aviation Center (SC-TAC).

We heard from Sens. Graham and Scott, and Reps. Duncan, Gowdy, Wilson, Norman and Rice during the forum. A common theme that emerged: although we hear hyper-partisan rhetoric, it’s important that we engage in meaningful discussions about policy issues with people who bring a variety of perspectives.

We seized the opportunity for discussion through our small meetings, where we were joined by Dave Edwards, Executive Director of GSP, and Max Metcalf, Manager of Government & Community Affairs for BMW Manufacturing Co. The issues discussed were:

Supporting free trade and opposition to escalating tariffs:

  • We echo the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the SC Chamber of Commerce in supporting free trade and multilateral agreements, and see the current escalating tariff situation to be a threat to the viability of Upstate businesses.
  • South Carolina and the Upstate both are heavy export regions – meaning that our economies are based upon the idea that South Carolinians produce goods or services that are sold throughout the globe.
  • 2017 Export Volume
    • Upstate - $11.19 Billion
    • South Carolina – $27.42 Billion
    • United States - $1,993.87 Billion
  • Total (direct and indirect combined) Export Jobs
    • Upstate - 66,273
    • South Carolina – 164,242
    • United States – 12,689,759

Advocating for a fully-funded and staffed U.S. Commercial Service:

  • As a region whose economy has grown as a result of international business, we also recognize that a strong U.S. Commercial Service helps to attract foreign investment to grow U.S. jobs, while also leveling the playing field for U.S. businesses overseas.
  • For every $1 of appropriations, the U.S. Commercial Service has seen $199 in U.S. exports and inward investment returns. In FY17, the service assisted 30,000 companies, and 83 percent were small/medium-sized.
  • From FY16-18, the service has lost 28 field service officers. While foreign offices remain open, hiring has slowed and funds have been diverted to domestic tariff work.

Our hope is to see increased field presence of U.S. Commercial service teams through filling of vacancies.

Expressing support for continued operation of the EX-IM Bank:

  • In May, Anderson County industry Tactical Medical Solutions was named as the EXIM’s 2018 New Exporter of the Year – an example of the type of international growth that can inspire businesses of all sizes to create jobs at home. EXIM supported the company with $400,000 in export sales annually for the past three years, including new overseas markets.
  • Within South Carolina, EXIM has supported 72 companies, 17,056 jobs and $2.669 million in export sales.
  • SC Beneficiaries include: Boeing; Sage Automotive Interiors; Grace Management Group; Confluence Outdoors; Wellstone Mills.

Many thanks are due to the Upstate’s federal elected officials for their work to represent our region and willingness to explore issues of economic competitiveness, and to the Upstate Chamber Coalition and Congressional staff members for making this trip a reality.


About the Author

As Public Relations Manager for the Upstate SC Alliance, Danielle Besser manages a multifaceted communications strategy that supports each of the Upstate Alliance’s initiatives. Responsibilities include cultivating media relationships, telling stories of Upstate industry innovation and success, and identifying opportunities for advocacy communications. She also manages the Alliance's social media accounts and provides event support. 

Previously, Danielle worked in Georgia as Director of Marketing & Communications for the Liberty County Development Authority and as a reporter for Coastal Courier. Danielle has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from the University of Florida and is a graduate of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development, the South Carolina Economic Development Institute and the IEDC Economic Development Marketing & Attraction course. 


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