Letters to the Editor

Economic development tool needs a boost

In recent years, South Carolina has been recognized for its innovation in growing wealth and advancing economic prosperity in places where that is difficult to do. One of the key tools provided by the Legislature is the community development tax credit, which creates tax incentives for investors and donors to fund local nonprofit community-development corporations and community-development financial institutions to help create jobs, build affordable housing and revitalize long-neglected communities.

These non-profit organizations have leveraged the state tax credit 17-to-1 and created more than 5,000 jobs. Other states have modeled their own laws on our community-development tax credit.

This tax credit supported a program that helped a single mother in Anderson get job training, earn a college degree, secure a job paying $19 per hour and leave public assistance. It supported a program in North Charleston that helped a young entrepreneur who lives in a food desert start a community garden and build a community grocery store that is providing fresh vegetables and food to a neighborhood in transition to prosperity.

There are real transformational stories like these from all over South Carolina, but state funding has dried up for the tax credit to attract private capital into proven programs of economic development, and S.C. investors are hungry for more.

Earlier this year, Sen. Paul Campbell introduced S.412 and House Republican Leader Gary Simrill introduced H.3842 to provide more community-development tax credits to investors. But their bills are stuck in committees, and can’t be considered again until January. At the same time the Legislature provides $11 million a year in tax credits for private school choice and $6 million a year in tax credits for tech companies, we cannot get a bill to provide a $5 million tax credit for community economic development out of subcommittee.

South Carolina needs to return to the role as leader and innovator in growing economies in the state’s emerging communities. One important step is for the Legislature to reauthorize the community-development tax credit.

Bernie Mazyck

CEO, S.C. Association for Community Economic Development