Chambers press for tax reform, continued investment.

Another year passed. Cities and statehouses are still beset with pandemic relief challenges.

Still, theUpstate Chamber Coalitioncelebrated some major victories in 2021, from COVID-19 liability relief for businesses to $200 million allocated for expanding the Port of Charleston, including a container transfer facility.

Following the allotment, Gov. Henry McMaster called for $300 million for the ports in his executive budget for the year, released Jan. 10.

"There are probably about 116,000 jobs supported in the Upstate by exports by the port, so that's a huge thing if we can get goods in and out of the Port of Charleston, better, faster and cheaper," said Jason Zacher, executive director of the coalition. "That benefits all the Upstate."

As imports continue to stall and theS.C. Ports Authoritypicks up the speed to build the deepest port in the Southeast, additional funding will remain a hot topic.

But as the pandemic appears to transition to something more endemic and American Rescue Plan Act funds filter into budgets across the state, Zacher sees new challenges on the horizon for South Carolina's business community.

Zacher, who also serves as the senior vice president of advocacy at theGreenville Chamber, represents 13 chambers of commerce as head of the Upstate Chamber Coalition. The coalition's advocacy team drew from chamber members' responses to an autumn survey when compiling the year's legislative agenda.

"We have a historic opportunity right now," he told GSA Business Report. "There's going to be between $4 and $5 billion worth of one-time money coming into the state that can be spent this budget year, whether that's ARPA (the rescue plan), whether that's infrastructure-build money from the feds, or just one-time money coming in from this regular state budget."

Port expansion aside, the lobbying team will push for the extension of broadband service across the entire Upstate, funding for water and sewer replacement projects, electric vehicle infrastructure and interstate road rehabilitation.

"All infrastructure is lacking in this state," he said. "It's not just roads. Its challenges to the water and sewer: mill village sewer lines that are still 100 years old and are made of clay. Things like that need to get done, and we've got the opportunity now to do a lot of this work. I think that it's incumbent upon not only the General Assembly, but our cities and counties when they get this money to look at what's the best, most...

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