Let’s Show We Are Friendly to All Businesses

By Kenneth S. Allen
March 07, 2014
We recently held a reception for Columbia’s 50 Most Influential who were identified in our January issue (you can see pictures from the reception on page 29.) I had conversations on a variety of topics throughout the evening. One topic, however, was brought up by four different people:

The Confederate flag.

Specifically, that the flag needs to be removed from the Statehouse grounds.

I did not bring the subject up. It came up organically as part of general discussions. And I am aware how sensitive this issue is, and the trouble I may stir up with this letter.

But when this issue is top-of-mind from people who are the movers and shakers in Columbia, it needs to be discussed from a business standpoint, because that was context of our conversations.

Coach Steve Spurrier has already said publicly the flag makes it tough to recruit football players from out of state, whose image of the South Carolina has been formed in part by knowledge of the display of what some see as a symbol of slavery and racism.

One person said the flag makes it hard to recruit businesses to downtown, since it waves at the end of Main Street and seems to flap in even the slightest breeze.

Another person said the flag makes employee recruitment difficult. If the prospective employee didn’t know about the flag in advance, he/she would surely notice it on a tour of the city.

One possibility is to move the flag to the Confederate Relic Room in the Columbia Museum. That would leave the flag on public display without waving it in the faces of people who find it objectionable.

There may be other solutions. But it seems only logical that if we are going to bill ourselves as a Business Friendly State, we need to put forth the image that we are friendly for all business people and all their customers.

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