Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Sign of Progress

I teach a module of a Fundamentals of Economic Development school twice a year for the South Carolina Economic Developers Association (SCEDA). The school is organized by Bill Workman, and another lecturer is Hal Johnson, CEO of the Upstate Alliance and this year's chairman of SCEDA.

The module I teach is on creating an innovative and productive economy. Last summer, Hal and I talked at the SCEDA school, and he was frustrated that traditional economic developers had not been included in creating the New Carolina: SC's Council on Competitiveness plan for a more innovative economy. Hal was really, really frustrated. And I knew others in the traditional economic development community felt shut out of the New Carolina process too.

We don't have two economic development strategies in this state: a new one and an old one... or a rural on and an urban one... or an affluent one and a poor one... or a black one and an white one. We have one strategy, and we need everyone involved in economic development on the same page as to what that strategy is.

So around Labor Day, I began holding meetings in my office every other week with George Fletcher, Executive Director of New Carolina, Hal Johnson, Bill Workman, and Irv Welling, a founder of the Upstate Alliance. The goal was to build relationships and discuss how to leverage the assets of both New Carolina and the traditional economic development community to get both on the same wavelength.

This week Hal Johnson was appointed to be a Director in New Carolina. That is an incredible sign of progress in the state, and a real testament to the leadership of George Fletcher and Hal Johnson.

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