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Chamber celebrates historic year; Haley gives pro business address

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Thursday, January 26, 2012

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Governor Nikki Haley, tonight's keynote speaker, laughs as she sees Allen Smith prepare to present her with a bobblehead likeness. Nigel Robertson of WYFF was the master of ceremonies.

Governor Nikki Haley, tonight's keynote speaker, laughs as she sees Allen Smith prepare to present her with a bobblehead likeness. Nigel Robertson of WYFF was the master of ceremonies.



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Nancy Welch received the inaugural Senator J. Verne Smith Award for her service and leadership to the Greater Greer area. The late Verne Smith was an advocate of all things Greer and served in the state senate for 33 years.

Mark Tucker

Nancy Welch received the inaugural Senator J. Verne Smith Award for her service and leadership to the Greater Greer area. The late Verne Smith was an advocate of all things Greer and served in the state senate for 33 years.

The biggest annual celebration the Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce ever held was also one for the ages tonight at the Embassy Suites in Greenville.

Nancy Welch received the inaugural Senator J. Verne Smith Award. Gov. Nikki Haley, the state’s first woman governor, was the guest speaker. A record 510 people were in attendance and Chamber President and CEO Allen Smith reported $36,700 gift cards sold in the chamber’s “Keep the Green in Greer” initiative.

The chamber presented its annual awards to Katie Beason as the Sud Paget Volunteer of the Year Award; April Staggs as the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award; and Russell Ashmore for the Chairman’s Award for Excellence.

The Verne Smith award, presented by Keith and Donna Smith (unrelated to chairperson) recognized Welch for leadership and service to the Greater Greer area.

Allen Smith praised outgoing chairperson Donna O. Smith for “being the right leader at the right time for Greer.” Smith then presented John Mansure the symbolic 4-foot gavel as incoming board chairman.

Haley’s address emphasized her administration’s commitment to providing jobs for South Carolinians, cultivating new national and international business, and taking care of the businesses that are already in the state. “Number one on my agenda is jobs,” Haley said. “You give a person a job and you take care of the family.”

Haley said the state’s unemployment rate is 9.4 percent, down from a high of 11.1 in December 2008. “It’s the first time we beat North Carolina and Georgia.”

South Carolina has shifted from a textile-based manufacturing state to a diverse job demographic. “We can build cars, planes and tires in South Carolina,” Haley said.  “But we need to continue our workforce training. “

Haley got an ovation when she said, “I signed an executive order that no striking employee can get unemployment benefits.”  Haley said she vigorously opposes unions. “We don’t want or need unions in South Carolina.”

Haley also hit on topics such as the state’s pension plan problems, capping tort reform, tax reform by reducing six tax brackets to two, and phasing out corporate income tax.

During a question and answer session Haley said the state’s economy is hot with aerospace, automotive and high tech. “It’s a good environment,” she said.

Haley discussed the port of Charleston issue and Georgia’s aggressive developing of Savannah’s port. And she passionately favored eliminating the department of transportation with the governor as the lead authority and a commissioner. “I need to concentrate on the interstates and bridges,” Haley said. “The DOT shouldn’t be involved in dirt roads, city streets and roads. That should be the county’s responsibility.”

Mansure introduced his executive committee:

Chairman elect, Bill Roughton
Past chairman, Donna O. Smith
Treasurer, Anna Locke
Membership chair, Rudy Painter
Business development, Ken Harper
Leadership, Mark King
Event chair, Adele Langford

• Gov. Haley had a full day in the Upstate. She first spoke at Hillcrest High School and was the keynote speaker at Ecoplosion at CU-ICAR Campbell Graduate School.

• Allen Smith presented memorable gifts to Haley and Donna O. Smith on behalf of the Greer Chamber. Both received bobbleheads in their likeness.

• Nigel Robertson of WYFF-TV was the master of ceremonies for the second straight year. The Greer Chamber is making a donation in honor of Robertson’s dad who is battling the ALS disease.

• Previous chamber award winners in 2011 were: Del-Tec Packaging, Inc. as Small Business; the late Richard A. Ashmore for Outstanding Leadership; Karen Thomas, Professional Woman of the Year; and Scott Turner, Superintendent of Spartanburg District 5, the Margaret Burch Education Award.

 

People mentioned in this article. Click a name to view more articles for that person.

John Mansure, Nancy Welch

Businesses mentioned in this article.

City of Greer, Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce, Greer Memorial Hospital

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