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.
The Chamber's Government Affairs Committee coordinates and participates in the following events and programs:
Annual State of the Community Address
Pre and Post Legislative Breakfasts
Greater Augusta Day at the Capital
Washington D.C. Fly In Event
(and other opportunities to meet with elected officials throughout the year)
2023 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 its region. 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:
- Work with government to ensure local ordinance maintains a fair marketplace for all businesses and does not impede future growth.
- The continuation of Augusta University’s development as the state’s health, academic, and cyber center leader which continues to expand our educational initiative of building a first class workforce for future careers in various industry professions.
- To expand the high demand technology programs at the Augusta Tech Grovetown campus and the awareness of the critical need for technology careers.
- 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 local and state government providing appropriate and applicable funding mechanisms, such as Tax Allocation Districts, to support the business community -- existing and new.
- Improvement of the Tier system to effectively support job growth throughout the State of Georgia. 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.
- Support political action that is deemed to be in the best interest of Columbia County businesses and our members as a whole.
- In partnership with CSRA stakeholders, continue to advocate for stable federal funding for the current and future missions at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina, which employs more than 2,000 Georgia residents and purchases $400 million in goods and services annually from regional businesses.
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 supports 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 within our state’s borders to and from the port of Savannah.
- The Chamber continues to advocate for the repair or replacement of the New Savannah River Bluff Lock and Dam to protect the pool of water and flood control for the Greater Augusta area.
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 Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) programs to further enhance and train students for careers in all trades to include electrical, technical, medical, construction trades, cybersecurity, manufacturing, and services careers, as well as the expansion of existing 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.
- Encourage the Columbia County Board of Education to create a Career Academy School.
- 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 data.
- 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.
- Support funding of educational institutions to address the growing needs of schools and to create workforce-ready students in Columbia County.
TAXES AND TAX REFORM
The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce supports essential reform of the Columbia County, the State of Georgia and the Federal tax system to support the growth of existing business and industry.
The Chamber also promotes legislation that encourages limited transparency on sales tax to protect the knowledge of amount paid by a business while confirming that a business is paying sales tax to the correct county.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTHCARE AND MEDICAL SUPPORT
The 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 through- out 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. Ensures 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.
- To support economic development and tourism in the Savannah River / Clark Hill basin by maintaining a consistent, full pool safe lake level.
The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce supports programs that promote marketing and economic development and regulatory functions that protect and promote agriculture and consumer interests and ensures an abundance of safe food and fiber for Georgia, though the development of state-of-the-art technology and a professional workforce.
LAW ENFORCEMENT & FIRST RESPONDERS
The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce supports our local and state law enforcement and first responding agencies. Safety, crime prevention, and positive community relationships are integral to the evolution and long-term success of our community. It is the Chamber?s belief that to ensure our communities have the potential to grow, thrive and offer resources to residents, supporting safety and community law enforcement relationships is imperative.