South Carolina Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Otis Rawl says the hot issue in the state and nationwide is health care reform. Rawl says efforts have to be made legislatively and from a business structure standpoint to allow more businesses to provide cost effective health care for employees, keeping in mind that self-employed persons are in need of help in securing reasonably priced health care for themselves and their families.”The state needs to look at some type of comprehensive tort reform initiative that will hopefully reduce some of the cost of health care that is becoming a lot more defense medicine than it is giving the proper care that people need. We’ll also be looking at energy issues to make sure we have a reliable, predictable source of energy for businesses that operate in the state.”
Rawl says job creation in the state which includes attracting new business cannot be obtained on a consistent basis without improvements to our roads, bridges and water systems.”Sometime here pretty quickly we need to look at our infrastructure which is crumbling, and find a way to earmark some funds to improve water and sewer, our roads, and enhance our ports. “
Rawl says for the state’s economy to improve over the next several years, increased investment in our schools must be made which would include making accessible to school children the latest in technical tools needed to enhance educational opportunities. “We have to look at enhancing the broadband coverage in our state where I kids can access education initiatives that will make it easier from them to learn.”
Rawl says the Chamber will be keeping a close eye on the progress of the South Carolina Tax Realignment Commission and its scrutiny of the state’s tax structure keeping in mind that any suggested changes in the structure must be conducive to creating a healthy environment for business creation and growth.
“We must keep a keen eye on the committee that was established to examine the way our tax structure is put together to make sure we have a balanced tax system so that we don’t get too much out of sync with our neighbors and at the same time allows us to compete globally from a cost standpoint.”
Rawl says for the long haul for South Carolina to significantly improve and grow its economy, the state must start developing more technical savvy, versatile employees prepared for the workforce demands of the 21st century workplace.
“what we are going to have to do is looking at our educational institutions whether its K through 12, or technical colleges, or our advanced degree awarding colleges and universities, in order to provide a skilled worker who has more skills than the worker the state has provided in the past. so we can place more state citizens in these high performance, high technology based jobs than the type of jobs we have created in south Carolina in the past.”
Rawls says the days of the low wage jobs in South Carolina are going away. Those jobs are going offshore. We have to provide our citizens the skill sets they need to compete in the highly technical global marketplace.