S.C. Sen. Greg Ryberg wasn't sure the S.C. Chamber of Commerce had something called the Public Servant of the Year award - until Chamber officials announced this week he had received it. "I feel very honored to have won this award," said the Aiken Republican. Ryberg will be recognized at the Chamber's 31st annual summit, scheduled at Wild Dunes near Mt. Pleasant, Nov. 10-12. Ryberg "has been instrumental in improving South Carolina's business climate for many years," S.C. Chamber President Otis Rawl said via e-mail. "Through his leadership in the South Carolina Senate, he has worked to achieve ESC Reform, workers' compensation reform and has been a strong advocate for improving South Carolina's infrastructure." During his tenure in the legislature, said Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce President David Jameson, Ryberg has been a consistent pro-business senator. "He believes in a no-nonsense and business-like approach to running a government," Jameson said. Both Chamber officials cited Ryberg's leadership role in the reform of the Employment Security Commission - an agency that Ryberg said was beyond the point of being broken. He appreciated the opportunity to work in a bipartisan effort to reform the ESC and move authority away from the General Assembly and to the governor. The Employment Security Commission no longer provides benefits for employees who were fired for misconduct. "It also now has a pay-as-you-go model," Ryberg said. "If your company often lays people off, you'll pay a higher pre mum for unemployment insurance. Those who don't lay people off will pay little or nothing." Near the end of the 2009 legislative session, said Ryberg, a bill slipped in that would have provided a single developer a "pork benefit" incentive to open a large mall in Jasper County. Ryberg fought it when the 2010 session began and said more people began to see the adverse impact, not only in the Lowcountry but also throughout the state. South Carolina should not back away from tax incentives involving manufacturing, cars or major companies like Boeing, Ryberg said. "Those initial investments can provide the beginning of long-term relationships," he said. "But retail is different. When you give those kinds of incentives, you're not increasing the size of the market. You're just cutting the pie differently at the expense of other businesses that are already there." Ryberg is looking forward to the 2011 legislative session, although he acknowledged that lawmakers will be tested on the budget with the loss of federal stimulus funding. The General Assembly must look at the state's pension plan, he said. Although current retirees have formal guarantees, the program may need mollification for the long haul. Despite the economic issues still facing the state, Ryberg is encouraged by the success of the S.C. Department of Commerce. "The department has delivered a number of businesses moving to South Carolina," he said. "We need to continue focusing on manufacturing jobs. With them, you enhance retail businesses, too. And with Boeing, at the end of the day 10 years from now, I believe we'll say it's one of the most important investments we've ever made."