Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen and the campaign of his Republican opponent Gov. Nikki Haley traded jabs Thursday over which candidate is best for small business in South Carolina.
"It's great to lure out-of-state corporations to South Carolina. They help provide jobs. But for us to be truly successful we have to see local, home-grown industries succeed and part of that is making government more friendly to small business," Sheheen said.
Sheheen added that during the four years of the Haley administration "we haven't invested in what helps small business - roads and bridges that are successful and are rebuilt and schools that we know need to be rebuilt across South Carolina. Gov. Haley hasn't really given us much over the past four years."
The state senator from Camden made the comments as he was visiting the Palmetto Brewing Company, a local Charleston company.
Sheheen said he runs a small business. "I know what it's like to meet a payroll and I know what it's like to employ people in our local community," he added.
But Chaney Adams, a spokesman for the Haley campaign, said Sheheen's record in the legislature shows he's wrong for the state.
"In over a decade spent in Columbia as a lawyer-legislator, Vince Sheheen has made it clear that he is no friend to South Carolina small business," Adams said in an email. "Whether he's cheering on Obamacare, proposing a host of new taxes and fees, or voting against tort reform, so his lawyer buddies can continue to profit from frivolous lawsuits, Vince has proven he's wrong for small business."
Haley herself grew up in a family that ran a small business.
The Haley campaign also noted that last week, the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, which has 4,000 members, endorsed the governor, citing her record on economic development and her opposition to the federal health care law sometimes known as Obamacare.
"We know that the NFIB is a national organization that tends to be very partisan," Sheheen responded. "Small businesses around this state understand I'm a small businessperson. We have been through dozens of businesses across South Carolina and have received support."
Figures from the federal Small Business Administration show that, in 2011, the last year for which figures are available, there were about 377,000 small businesses in South Carolina that employed about 720,000 workers. That's about half of the state's private sector workforce.