The South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry bylaws state that our purpose is to promote, foster, and encourage the economic development of the State of South Dakota. It is a broad goal but simply stated it means that if business has a problem with state laws, we exist to fix those problems. If our members do not have problems with state regulations and laws, we exist to keep it that way.
The changes in public policy that can hurt businesses come from the legislature, the rule making process and, increasingly, the initiative process. To illustrate our role, here are some recent victories secured for the entire business community through the leadership and actions of the State Chamber.
Defeat of Initiative #10 – the Gag Law. Initiative #10 would have taken basic rights of free speech and political participation from business owners, managers, employees and their families. The initiative was exclusively sponsored and funded by an unknown group that used a specially created non-profit organization to hide their real identity. The Chamber played a leading role in a coalition that grew to 61 organizations, including several unions. The coalition defeated Initiative #10 by securing nearly 70% of the vote.
The Chamber’s high level of expertise in organizing coalitions, leading initiative campaigns and winning statewide elections is critically important as groups turn to the “semi-direct” democracy of the initiative process to seek public policies that threaten the business environment of South Dakota.
Over the past three elections, the Chamber has played a key role in defeating the gag law (2008), stopping a shift in property taxes to newly purchased properties (Amendment D/2006), and in defending keeping food in the sales tax base while promoting a program to assist low income residents (Initiative #1/2004). In 2010, the Chamber will be leading an effort to amend the state’s constitution (Amendment K) to protect secret ballots. This measure could help meet the challenge of the federal “Card Check” law that allows unions to be organized without an election and the use of private ballots.
The Chamber functions as an advocate for our members and for all businesses in South Dakota. This advocacy is done in the legislature, before state agencies and directly with the public in the form of initiative campaigns. The South Dakota Chamber is not only working to promote business but is the organization that appreciates the role of the public sector and looks for solutions to pressing problems.
While the core mission of the State Chamber has always been to serve as the voice of business during the legislature and to provide the leadership in statewide issues, we also maintain a series of important programs for the benefit of our membership and the betterment of the state of South Dakota. Here is a reminder of the programs offered.
Business Day at the Legislature – Also serving as our annual meeting, Business Day brings local business men and woman and community leaders to Pierre for a legislative update, Business Caucus event, an opportunity to observe the legislature in process, meet with state officials, and enjoy the evening’s reception and banquet with quality keynote speakers.
Governor’s Giant Vision Business and Student Competition – This program was established in 2005 to help South Dakota citizens realize that our state is the best place to start a successful business. The program was designed as an opportunity for entrepreneurs to compete for seed money and a chance to achieve the dream of operating their own business. Over $37,000 was presented to the 2010 participants of this year’s event.
Youth Business Adventure – The of mission YBA is to help South Dakota high school students and teachers better understand the American private enterprise system and how business operates within it. Since hosting the first summer program in 1980, YBA has served over 5,800 South Dakota students. YBA has coordinated a post secondary matched scholarship program for students attending South Dakota institutions and provides an opportunity for members to participate in a week-long campus event as Company Advisors. Advisors serve as business mentors for students.
Economic Outlook Seminar – This annual fall event provides members with updated information on the state’s economy and speakers addressing important and timely issues such as residential and commercial real estate markets, the nation’s financial crisis, the state’s gubernatorial race, and the status of research impacting business on the state’s college campuses.
The South Dakota Chamber frequently takes a leadership or partnership approach to a number of other issues as they arise. In the past, we have hosted a Business Leadership Summit to provide information on federal legislative issues that affect business; partnered with the state in addressing Unemployment Insurance and property taxes issues; and are currently working to address changes to the economic development program that offers tax refunds to very large construction projects.
The State Chamber communicates regularly through the publication “Capitol-ism”, providing timely information on legislative activities and actions. Our quarterly electronic newsletter “Capitol Venture” is distributed to the membership and posted on this website.
Please review the benefits of memberships with the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce at this link: Member Benefits.
Member testimonials are included at this link: Member Testimonials