Business leaders call for Confederate flag to come down

Business leaders joined the call Wednesday to remove the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds.

The chorus of businesses calling for removal of the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds continues to swell in the aftermath of a racially motivated shooting June 17 that left nine parishioners dead at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

State-owned utility Santee Cooper and the Charleston Regional Development Alliance board of directors joined others across the state and nation, saying the time has come to put the flag in a museum and not in a place of sovereignty.

“Removing the flag and placing it in the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum is an important first step toward building lasting peace, unity and healing,” alliance board chairman Lonnie Carter and alliance President and CEO David Ginn said in a statement.

“The Charleston region is a global destination for trade, talent and tourism. Our community’s economic growth and success is the result of hard work, collaboration and cooperation of many working toward a common goal,” they said. “Division will negatively affect our ability to compete and curtail future economic opportunities. The world is taking notice of Charleston and South Carolina. The steps our leaders take today will impact lives for generations to come.”

Carter, who also serves as Santee Cooper president and CEO, and board chairman W. Leighton Lord III issued the following statement:

“Santee Cooper commends Gov. Nikki Haley and the General Assembly for promoting unity in South Carolina in the face of last week’s unthinkable tragedy in Charleston. We support their efforts to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the Statehouse and applaud their leadership in general to promote healing across our great state.”

Also, the law firm of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough supports removing the flag, calling the shootings “devastating.”

“Making a difference in our communities has been — and continues to be — a part of the fabric of Nelson Mullins,” the firm said in a statement. “It is in that tradition that we strongly support the decision to revisit the issue of the Confederate flag in order to move it to a more appropriate location. We join with South Carolina’s Governor and the state’s political, business and community leaders in the call to take down the Confederate flag as swiftly as possible.”

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They follow a stand made Monday by the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce to bring down the flag.

Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz, who visited coffee shops in Charleston on Friday after the shootings, also supports removing the flag.

“At Starbucks we believe that as a country we should lean into our diversity and the equality of opportunity it represents,” he said. “Any policies that enable this new mindset for America will help our country to prosper. And certainly the decision to remove the Confederate Flag from South Carolina’s state grounds will help move us forward in this direction.”

The Starbucks Foundation donated $100,000 to two funds set up to help families of the victims and the community.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.