COLUMBIA - A national small business organization on Tuesday endorsed Gov. Nikki Haley's re-election bid.

The endorsement was made on behalf of the political action committee Save America's Free Enterprise Trust, of the National Federation of Independent Businesses. The announcement was made at the Shealy Truck Center.

NFIB's state director, Ben Homeyer, said the state's small businesses have no greater friend than Haley and her office.

"We've seen a drop in the tax rate for small businesses going from 5 (percent) to 3 percent," Homeyer said. "And this was a direct result of the NFIB working with the House and the Senate, as well as the Governor to make this happen."

Shealy President Bruce Shealy said he believed Haley received the organization's endorsement because she has the backs of small businesses.

"Since the beginning of the Haley administration, small business development and growth has been a major priority," Shealy said. "Coming from the background of a family owned business, Gov. Haley is uniquely qualified to understand the dynamics that drive an effective public-private sector relationship."

Haley said the NFIB's endorsement would likely be the closest to her, because she grew up working with her family's small business.

"I will never forget what drives me as a governor is still what drove that kid at 13 years old," she said, adding that small businesses run the state.

"When you look at the economy in South Carolina, this didn't happen because we got lucky," Haley said. "This happened because we said we were going to put business and people first, and we didn't just talk about it, we did it."

Kristin Sosanie, spokeswoman for the South Carolina Democratic Party, said the endorsement was a desperate move for Haley's campaign after an internal Democratic poll that leaked showed Haley's re-election bid remains vulnerable.

"Nikki Haley has forced South Carolina's small businesses to pay the highest commercial and industrial property taxes in the country, all while she gives hundreds of millions of tax dollars to out-of-state corporations," Sosanie said. "Haley has consistently stacked the deck against our state's local business owners, so the lack of support from the real small-business community is no surprise."

Reach Cynthia Roldan at 708-5891.