Friday, August 26, 2005

And a time to pluck up that which is planted.

Liberty Corporation, a major company headquartered in Greenville, has been sold to Raycom and the headquarters will be consolidated in Alabama.

Corporate headquarters locations are crucial to a local community, and the loss of one as significant as Liberty hurts. There is a direct loss of high wage jobs related to the headquarters itself, and well as an indirect impact of local vendors that supported it, from attorneys and printers. There is also the loss of the community involvement by these folks, from their contributions to the United Way to their board membership in community organizations.

Liberty was founded and led by the Hipp Family. In addition to being outstanding business leaders, over the years members of the Hipp family have been tremendous community leaders and benefactors in the Greenville community. Here are just two recent examples of the civic contributions of the current CEO of Liberty Corporation, Hayne Hipp, and his wife, Anna Kate.

In recent years, there has been an incredible revitalization of downtown Greenville, which has become one of the coolest downtowns in America. Greenville is one of the only metropolitan areas with a water fall downtown, Reedy River Falls. To showcase the falls, Hayne and Anna Kate gave funds to build the Liberty Bridge, a pedestrian bridge which dramatically envelops the falls. While a lot of great momentum is building in Greenville, some of it will take decades to be fully realized and the Liberty Bridge has become a tangible symbol of the progress the community is making that people can appreciate today.

A couple of years ago, Hayne also create the Liberty Fellowship, designed to "to promote outstanding leadership in South Carolina, empowering the state and its future leaders to realize their full potential." Modeled on the Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellowship, each class of twenty Liberty Fellows attend four intense seminars over two years "to explore the values that sustain them; cultivate respect for both the ideas and beliefs of others; and become significant contributors to our state, and to society at large." Hayne was so encouraged by the success of the first class that he accelerated the selection of the second class.

To everything there is a season, with companies being bought and companies being sold. The community needs to appreciate the crucial impact that headquarters locations have, and we need to redouble out efforts to create high-impact companies that can become the major corporate headquarters locations here in the future. It’s vital to our economic health as a community.

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