The Local Life: Regional chamber focuses on businesses of all sizes

Voices from the Beaufort community

August 8, 2011 

The Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce is a private, nonprofit organization charged with serving our member businesses. Founded as the Beaufort Board of Trade in 1892, the chamber's mission is to lead the enhancement, expansion and diversification of the business community throughout the Beaufort region.

The chamber is able to fulfill its mission by providing opportunities for business growth and learning opportunities so that businesses are more profitable and productive. Members do business with other members and find daily opportunities for business growth and support. Advocacy for small business, networking, marketing and educational programs are among the benefits of membership.

The Beaufort region is a community of small businesses. South Carolina House of Representatives and Beaufort County Council both proclaimed June 2011 as Microenterprise Month. A microenterprise is a type of small business, often registered, having five or fewer employees and requiring seed capital of not more than $35,000. Because microenterprises typically have little access to the cash needed to run a business, they often rely on "micro-loans" in order to be financed. Microenterprises are the key to our state's and nation's economic recovery and sustainable growth. A recent study from DemographicsNow found the average number of employees our local businesses employ is nine, confirming that there is significant need for funding for small businesses.

"While the state has numerous nonprofit and government agencies struggling to help microenterprises, they do so with inadequate funding and resources," said Rep. Kenneth Hodges. Creating a public-private micro-enterprise development bank and tax incentives for micro-enterprises is a concept that should be explored. Several local business organizations are committed to working together to find solutions, and we thank partners such as the Lowcountry Small Business Hub, University of South Carolina Small Business Development Center and the Small Business Assistance Corp. for their interest and leadership in this initiative.

Helping businesses has become even more important in this economic downturn. The chamber is committed to helping all of our local businesses -- regardless of size -- grow and become more successful. The chamber provides many networking opportunities and exposure for our businesses. One of the most visible programs is the Business Expo. The Chamber's fourth annual business-to-business expo will be held Sept. 20. The event is free and open to the public. Booths are still available to exhibit. This sell-out event is a great way to meet new customers, discover products and services offered in our region and promote your business. For more information, go to www.beaufort chamber.org. Let us hear from you on how we can best serve your business.

Blakely T. Williams is interim president of the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce.

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