Thursday, February 25, 2021

Catch Up on Coronavirus Recovery in the Latest Issue of Cities Mean Business

The Municipal Association of SC recently published the latest issue of its Cities Mean Business magazine, which features multiple examples of the work that South Carolina’s cities and towns have pursued to maintain the critical services of local government during a pandemic, and to reduce the impacts of COVID-19. 

In the last year, local mask ordinances have served as an important tool for South Carolina’s fight against the virus’s spread. An analysis of ordinances by the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control found that jurisdictions with mask ordinances experienced a 66.5% greater decrease in cases in the first week as jurisdictions with no ordinance. These ordinances require ongoing communication efforts to help residents and businesses understand the requirements of these ordinances. The facemask communication outreach efforts of Greenville, Florence and Hartsville appear in an article that examines how cities can be creative under trying circumstances

Cities and towns don’t just provide police, fire, sanitation and utilities — they often offer cultural and recreational opportunities as well. Beginning in the spring of 2020, local governments began canceling festivals and other special events, and the loss of these vital elements of community identity has been felt ever since. Another article in this issue looks at the ways that Newberry, Walhalla and Seneca developed to keep these activities alive, even during the pandemic. 

Finding ways to make city services virtual remains a focus throughout South Carolina, and two of the articles feature examples of the increasingly online nature of local government work. A story on online transactions, such as submitting building permits and paying water bills, highlights North Myrtle Beach, North Charleston and York. Another article takes a look at the e-newsletters developed in Greenwood, Mauldin and Beaufort. 

This Cities Mean Business magazine will be inserted in the spring issue of SC Biz magazine. It is also distributed to legislators and state policymakers, and mailed to  business leaders around the state. 

Those who missed the issue of Cities Mean Business from last summer can read it here. It featured stories on downtown revitalization, pandemic business assistance, economic development communication and municipal customer service.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Catch Up on Hometown Legislative Action Week

Hometown Legislative Action Week has come and gone, but you can still experience the weeklong exploration of the 2021 Advocacy Initiatives. 

The all-online format for this year’s advocacy meeting broke the topics down into quick videos shared through email and social media. The videos remain available on the event webpage. Taking on topics like the expansion of naloxone to first responders, law enforcement reform and municipal enclaves, the short videos aim to spark conversations and action. 

One of the topics of the week, broadband internet expansion, included updates from the federal and state levels. Lawmakers are working to expand infrastructure and access to high-speed internet throughout the state. 

“Broadband can do for rural communities in the 21st century what electricity did in the 20th century,” said Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC). “The South Carolina legislature is to be applauded for the work it [has] done in this area. We are working at the federal level to make sure that we give them the resources necessary to make this part of South Carolina’s future going forward.” 

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) noted that 21 million people in the United States had no broadband access before COVID-19, “and that number is shocking. So that’s why it’s so important that we don’t stop the progress now. We can work on expanding broadband in a bipartisan fashion here in Congress, and on the state level.” 

The goal of Hometown Legislative Action Week is to empower South Carolina’s cities and towns to speak with their legislators on areas that impact their hometowns. Local officials should use the Association’s Advocacy Initiatives and the information shared during Hometown Legislative Action Week to start a conversation with legislators to create change in our communities. 

Beyond watching and sharing the 2021 HLAW videos, there are some other steps city and town officials can take to keep up with what’s happening at the State House:
  • Subscribe to From the Dome to Your Home, the Association’s weekly legislative report delivered by email every Friday during the session. The report takes a look at what’s happening with the Association’s Advocacy Initiatives as well as any other legislation with an impact on cities and towns. 
  • Listen to the City Quick Connect podcast, where the Association’s advocacy staff discuss the week’s legislative happenings during the session.