Sep. 2—Over 60 Aiken Chamber of Commerce members got to help the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce develop its 2023 legislative agenda Friday morning.
The featured presentation at the Aiken chamber's First Friday event held at Newberry Hall was a survey conducted by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce to help develop its legislative priorities for the 125th session of the South Carolina General Assembly that will begin in January.
South Carolina Chamber President Bob Morgan spoke before the survey began. He said the stop at the Aiken chamber event was part of a 46-stop tour of local chambers of commerce to help the state chamber develop its legislative agenda.
Will Frierson, the governmental affairs director at the South Carolina chamber, conducted the survey using a PowerPoint presentation that allowed people to respond to the questions via their smartphone.
He asked the people attending the First Friday event questions about the challenges faced by business owners — a lack of workers was the top response — along with ways to improve the state's business climate, legal system and tax codes.
The South Carolina chamber said 62% of the people participating Friday were either slightly pessimistic or completely pessimistic about the overall health of the U.S. economy over the next 12 months. However, 83% of respondents rated South Carolina's economy as either excellent (9%) or good (74%).
Of the people responding, 77% said that their business or organization is suffering from workforce related challenges and 57% said the number one challenge was a lack of workers.
Nearly 32% of those surveyed said they are offering increased wages or better benefits in order to attract new employees.
And 85% said it is very important for South Carolina to have a competitive tax climate.
One of the questions asked whether the state should reform its legal system to allow for non-parties to lawsuits to be considered for portion of fault to determine shares of damages.
The response was well over 90% in favor of reform.
Frierson began the survey by asking which team, South Carolina or Clemson, would have more wins in the 2022 college football season. The answers were split about evenly between the two schools which Frierson called optimistic for South Carolina fans.
The survey ended with questions regarding marijuana legalization for both medicinal and recreational purposes and the legalization of sports betting.
The crowd overwhelming voted in favor of legalizing medical marijuana and split around 50-50 on the legalization of recreational marijuana.
The results were positive for sports betting legalization, too.
The South Carolina chamber takes the answers provided by the Aiken chamber and combines them with surveys conducted at chamber events throughout the state and surveys and conversations with their own members to develop their legislative priorities.
The next stop on the South Carolina Chamber tour is Sept. 7 in Darlington and Myrtle Beach.
The chamber usually announces its agenda in the final quarter of the year.