The primary purpose of the Government Affairs Committee of The Chamber is to promote a healthy business environment in Columbia County by supporting legislation and other governmental action which encourages a strong business climate along with growing economic opportunities.
The Committee welcomes input provided by Chamber members to help them recognize issues that are important to the business community. If you have identified an issue which impacts the business community please follow the link below and complete the Advocacy Request form.
Columbia County Proposed Sign Ordinance
The Chamber's Government Affairs sign sub-committee along with Chamber officials have been reviewing and making recommendations to the County Planning Department on behalf its 1000+ business members since August 2016. Although the Chamber appreciates the opportunity to help develop a new ordinance, several major concerns were unresolved regarding adequate signage on buildings, entrances and windows.
2017 Governmental Affairs Committee Legislative Agenda
The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, in representation of our business members, has a duty to express their views and interests on matters affecting and impacting their local community. The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce emphasizes these key areas:
The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce advocates for and encourages continued business expansion and job growth within our county. Economic development must be performed in a managed way so growth does not degrade our competitiveness or reduce our overall attractiveness as a nationally-ranked community to live, work and play.
Specifically, the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce supports these current and future initiatives:
- The continuation of Augusta University’s development as the state’s academic health center leader which continues to expand our educational initiative of building a first class workforce for future careers in various industry professions.
- Protection of operations and employee base currently employed at Fort Gordon and Savannah River Site, while encouraging expansion of new missions at each installation for further economic growth of our reg
- The local and state government providing appropriate and applicable incentives to support the business community – existing and new.
- Improvement of the Tier system to effectively support job growth throughout the State of Georg Consider the following specific recommendations: addition of factors to be assessed (i.e. daytime migration/inflow & outflow of county labor force, daytime income distribution), increased usability of the Job Tax Credit to allow all tiers to be able to apply the Job Tax Credit to withholdings tax liability meeting a set criteria.
- Work with government to ensure local ordinance maintains a fair marketplace for all businesses and does not impede future growth.
Transportation and Infrastructure
The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce supports the systematic development of county and state infrastructure and roads in order to provide for the needs of our growing population.
Of particular note and importance to the Chamber are the following issues and initiatives:
- The Chamber supports efforts by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to strengthen and expand multiple-lane highway systems connecting Augusta, Columbia County and the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) to other major economic and transportation centers in the state, specifically including Savannah, Athens, Columbus, and Macon.
- The Chamber encourages and supports the continued advancement of Columbia County’s transportation infrastructure and support the use of SPLOST program and other tools.
- The Chamber advocates the deepening of the Savannah Harbor to allow for increased port traffic, and investment in additional infrastructure in freight rail and surface transportation to support additional freight traffic from within our state’s borders to and from the port of Savannah.
Education, Technology and Workforce Development
The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce supports programs and initiatives directed at providing a unified, seamless, and world-class system of education, training, research and development. We endorse and support state of the art technology and methodologies, with committed public service associated with all levels (preK-12, technical & adult, college/university), focused on meeting the talent needs of business employers, as well as public and private organizations. A highly educated and well- trained workforce serves to attract quality, high-wage jobs, increasing the quality of life for all residents.
Specifically, the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce supports the current initiatives:
- Expansion of CTAE Career Pathway programs to further enhance and train students for careers in technical, medical, and service industries, including cybersecurity and film/digital entertainment production, as well as the expansion of existing programs to build a stronger qualified workforce.
- Curriculum reform including career exploration, cybersecurity programs, instruction on soft skills, the interview process, math in currency and measurement, and personal financial training.
- Enhancing programs and awareness of Augusta Technical College Grovetown Campus.
- County school systems having the resources and technology they need, to promote legislation providing incentives for states to raise academic standards and improve assessments, aligning them with college and workplace expectations.
- Support and promote the state employment system (Department of Labor) and training systems (QuickStart, East Central Georgia Consortium and the Technical College System of Georgia). Continue to encourage that these programs be driven by the actual needs of employers, based upon accurate and timely local labor market da
- Use the results of the completed regional workforce analysis to help foster a regional/local work- force strategy to support the overall improvement of the workforce.
Taxes and Tax Reform
The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce supports essential reform of Columbia County's, the State of Georgia and the Federal tax system to support the growth of existing business and industry.
Healthcare and Medical
Columbia County Chamber of Commerce supports health care solutions, efforts and reforms on improving the current private sector health care delivery system and controlling health care costs through wellness initiatives, disease prevention, and investment in health information technology systems improving patient safety, driving the quality and enabling efficient delivery of health care.
Specifically, the Chamber supports legislation and initiatives to provide our growing county with a medical center with emergency-room capabilities.
Water Management and Environment
The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce supports initiatives addressing air quality, water quality, water quantity, comprehensive planning, and growth management through public-private and intergovernmental partnerships, as well as policies emphasizing incentives versus government mandates.
Specifically, the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce supports the current initiatives:
- Support current legislation prohibiting interbasin transfers into the “Metro Atlanta Water Planning Region.”
- Monitor the statewide water planning process, so the plan protects water resources for economic development through- out Georg Any recommendations of the Georgia Water Council, and any action by the General Assembly, must provide flexibility and preserve Georgia’s ability to meet future water needs through the use of a full range of water management tools. Support full funding of the scientific analysis of state water resources recommended in the draft statewide water plan.
- Support continuation of essential environmental infrastructure financing programs of the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA). Especially those allowing local governments to meet the requirements of the new statewide water
- Support the continuation of improvement in the environmental permitting process so permits are issued at the speed of business. In addition, ensure Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) is responsive to the regulated community, and provides timely liaison, guidance, facilitation, and coordination of permit review and issuance to businesses.
- Consider appropriate sewage disposal and solid waste disposal policies at the state and local level consistent with economic development. Monitor the development of policy in this area as a result of the draft statewide water
- Understands the importance of public utilities to local government, residents, and business. Ensuring that sufficient capacity is available to support the projected growth of Columbia County is of major importance to the Chamber. The Chamber supports the expansion of the Columbia County Wastewater system necessary to ensure that the County has the capacity to meet the needs of residents and business.