November 27, 2013
The recent government shutdown had a $10 million impact on the local area, Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Jameson told U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, RS. C., on Tuesday.
The information came up during a roundtable discussion between Jameson, Scott and Economic Development Partnership Director Will Williams.
“In just the 20 days the government was shut down, it had a $10 million impact on our community,” Jameson said. “Will and I have had retailers of all sizes coming to us and asking about what’s going on in our economy.”
Scott responded by listing his work efforts on the federal level. Included is his continuing work with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C. They have all collaborated by sending letters to the Department of Energy, advocating for SRS along with making calls and attending conferences.
‘We have a unified front, and it’s important to have the entire congressional delegation working together on this topic,” Scott said. “We’re trying to get the government to get out of the way, sign the check and let these professionals continue their work.”
Scott also said during the discussion he is expecting a January continuing resolution – or CR – for the Savannah River Site. While the funding is necessary, Scott said he is still not a fan of temporary funding.
“I’m expecting some form of a continuing resolution,” Scott said. “But I still oppose them. They only mean that it will be more impossible to have any long-term funding. Continuing resolutions are inconsistent and have a diabolical nature. We’re still fighting for full funding in Washington.”
Jameson went into greater detail by describing the effects of a CR. He said SRS workers take understandable precautions by cutting back on their spending when full funding is not available. When workers are forced to cut back in case of furloughs or layoffs, the Aiken economy suffers.
Williams added for every job lost at the Site, his partnership has to work to find 2.5 jobs in the community to balance the economy.
“Economic development happens; but you can’t just snap your fingers and make it happen,” Williams said. “When 1,400 jobs are lost from October to October, I need to go find another Bridgestone to compensate for that.”
While the fight for funding is far from over, the congressional delegation is making progress, Scott said.
“We’re making progress in speaking with DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz,” he said. “DOE is trying to meet obligations without fully funding their obligations. They can’t do both and, so for us, it’s about staying on them and maintaining a partnership to get funding for SRS missions.”