The Savannah River Area Grass-roots Meeting gave area businesses a chance discuss issues they would like to see addressed by state legislators.
Thursday’s meeting was organized by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, Savannah River Region chambers of commerce and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions.
The meeting was one of several held throughout the state in August and September to develop a competitiveness agenda for the upcoming legislative session, said Otis Rawls, president and CEO of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.
The meeting drew people from Aiken, Barnwell, Edgefield and McCormick counties as well as area state legislators to the Palmetto Ter-race of the North Augusta Municipal Center.
They raised issues such as the need for adequate and equitable funding in higher education; the support and expansion of youth apprenticeships; support of the all of the state’s commercial nuclear industry; and addressing infrastructure needs and funding.
The meeting was the last to be held before the agenda is to be compiled, said Rawls.
“The issues have been pretty consistent across the state. What makes the Aiken area a little bit different is the Savannah River plant,” he said, noting the large number of people the site employs and the effects the sequestration has had on federal sites.
Once compiled, the competitiveness agenda will be shared with chambers across the state and talks with legislators will begin, he said.
Rep. Bill Taylor, who represents house district 86, was one of several legislators who attended the meeting and asked for feedback and ideas from those present.
“These types of grassroots meetings are very valuable because we need to hear from the community, particularly the business community,” he said after the meeting. “They carry the greatest tax burden in this state. … It’s important we attend the state chamber’s meetings and listen to what the heaviest taxpayers have to say about how to fund roads, bridges, infrastructure, education, etcetera.”