Commentary: A piece is missing from the SC economic development equation | Remark
South Carolina is very proud of its successes in business recruitment and economic development – and rightly so. As prosperous as our state is, there is a missing piece to our economic development equation. The pandemic makes it pretty obvious.
We write to encourage our legislators and the Department of Commerce to take notice and act.
The growth our economy has seen in multiple sectors, including manufacturing, tourism, biosciences, healthcare, and technology, has made our state a great place to live and work. Even in the wake of COVID-19, our economy continues to move forward.
However, we believe that engagement and investment in the work of our many exemplary nonprofit organizations has been largely absent from our state’s economic development strategy.
We see this as a missed opportunity.
As business owners and philanthropists who have long partnered with nonprofits locally and across our state, we know that businesses and communities thrive when nonprofits are at the heart of the ecosystem. of economic development.
Nonprofits provide the essential support systems that employees need to excel at work and that make a thriving economy possible.
They tirelessly provide affordable housing and health care, food security, high quality child care, education, job training, transportation, support for the elderly, services that improve the quality of life of a community and much more. They are anonymous but vital partners in our state’s efforts to recruit businesses and grow existing businesses.
For every community and every sector to fully recover and thrive, we need to invest in the services provided by nonprofit organizations.
Just as public commitments to roads and physical infrastructure stimulate private enterprise, public subsidies to nonprofit infrastructure have been shown to attract additional philanthropic and community investment.
Our state’s legislative leaders now have more money at their disposal than ever before, and maybe ever more. This includes $2.5 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funding, $550 million in Savannah River site settlement funds, as well as budget surpluses of nearly $2 billion.
The Post and Courier, in its Jan. 22 editorial response to Governor Henry McMaster’s State of the State address, applauded the use of these funds to make “significant, bold and transformative investments in the areas of education, infrastructure, labor and economic development to strengthen the foundations of our prosperity for generations to come.
We fully endorse the unified demand from our nonprofit and philanthropic colleagues, made through Together SC, the SC Grantmakers Network and the United Way Association of South Carolina, that the Legislature quickly send at least $100 million. in US bailout funds to the Department of Commerce for a nonprofit grant program.
A statewide competitive nonprofit grant program is fully within the intent of the federal aid program, and bold and large transformative investments in the work of nonprofit organizations will strengthen the foundations of prosperity for all.
We also encourage the Department of Commerce to expand its partnerships with our state’s nonprofit and philanthropic organizations.
They offer valuable local expertise and resources. Their 90,000 employees and hundreds of thousands of volunteers, board members and donors are already investing in our communities in ways that further Commerce’s mission. Helping people find jobs is as much a priority for them as it is for the state.
Many nonprofits have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. From mandatory long-term closures to record service demands, nonprofits have had to find a way to provide needed community services despite these challenges. And they did.
Since nonprofits employ nearly 9% of our state’s workforce, an investment of 4% of our state’s American Rescue Plan Act funds will produce outsized results.
We invite all who believe in the work of nonprofit organizations to join us in reaching out to our legislative leaders.
We believe they will listen and act.
This is a unique funding opportunity to invest meaningfully in the work of our nonprofit organizations and help make possible our shared vision of economic prosperity for all.
bill barnet is a former Mayor of Spartanburg, CEO of Barnet Development and Chairman of the Northside Development Group. Miner Shaw lives in Greenville, where she is a businesswoman, philanthropist and president of the Daniel-Mickel Foundation. Anita Zucker is president of The InterTechGroup, a leading educator and philanthropist in Charleston.