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.

Advocacy Request

2016 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:

Economic Development
The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce acts in concert with the Development Authority and other agencies to encourage 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 the current and future initiatives:

  • Georgia Regents University Augusta continuing to develop 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 region.
  • The concept of the State providing appropriate incentives for tourism development projects.
  • Downtown Renaissance Act – proposed act making statewide tax incentives available based on percentage of investment in new construction or renovation in a designated area.
  • Improvement or abolishment of the Tier system to be considered for those counties on State lines; or allow a level playing field. Elimination of Unfair system of tax credits punishing progressive and well developed counties that are at a disadvantaged level of competitiveness.

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.

  • The Chamber took an active role in educating and advocating for the passage of TSPLOST legislation. Region 7 passed the legislation and the Columbia County Chamber opposes any changes to the original legislation or the introduction of any new legislation altering the TIA.
  • Efforts by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to strengthen the multiple lane highway system connecting the port of Savannah to Augusta and the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA). Expansion of existing two-lane State Highways for a northern, multiple-lane highway system, connecting Augusta to Interstate I-85, along the eastern coast of the State to stimulate economic growth
  • The deepening of the Savannah Harbor for increased port traffic
  • Not implementing divided highways with concrete medians thus discouraging commercial growth and inconveniencing local traffic

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 technical, medical, and service industries, as well as expand on programs to build a stronger qualified workforce.
  • Curriculum reform including career exploration, 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 a state employment and training system that is driven by the actual needs of employers, based upon accurate and timely local labor market data.

Taxes and Tax Reform
The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce supports a reform of Columbia County’s, the State of Georgia and the Federal tax system. If the tax reform provides meaningful incentives supporting recruitment of strategic or targeted business and industry, as well as the growth of existing business and industry.

  • Specifically, the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce supported the exemption of sales tax on energy for manufacturing on both a state and local level.
  • If the Tier system is not eliminated, support the proposed bill to increase the job credits from $750 per job to $2,000 per job tax credit, while lowering the threshold for qualifications of job creation to 10 new jobs from the previous 25.

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.

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 throughout Georgia. 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 plan.
  • 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 plan.
  • 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 capicity to meet the needs of residents and business.

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