SouthernCarolina Regional Development Alliance Receives SRNS Loaned Professional for “Promise Zone” Project


For Immediate Release

SouthernCarolina Regional Development Alliance Receives SRNS Loaned Professional for “Promise Zone” Project

AIKEN, S.C. – July 5, 2017 – Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) continues to partner with the SouthernCarolina Regional Development Alliance (SCA), whose mission supports industrial development and employment opportunities in some of the state’s most rural counties.

Sandra Devoe Bland, Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board Liaison and Technical Advisor for the SRNS Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, has been recently assigned to the SCA home office located in Barnwell, S.C., to assist with implementing “Promise Zone” initiatives throughout Barnwell, Allendale, Bamberg, Hampton, Colleton and Jasper counties.

“I am pleased to be a part of the SouthernCarolina Regional Development Alliance in their impressive efforts to promote economic growth and employment opportunities to the area through Promise Zone initiatives,” said Bland. She added that the SCA will partner with the federal government to gain access to critical resources and expertise to help these counties grow and thrive within one of four national Promise Zone designees.

Promise Zone recipient counties will have access to multiple federal incentives over the next nine years. These incentives will help establish and nurture new federal programs that are designed to boost economic and educational growth within some of our nation’s most high-poverty, rural and tribal communities.

The Southern Carolina Promise Zone is home to approximately 90,000 residents, 28 percent of whom live in poverty. The Median Income for the six county Promise Zone area is $32,700, a full 25 percent less than South Carolina’s Median Household Income and 45 percent less than the United States’ Median Household Income. Educational attainment and employment rates are low among residents of the Promise Zone and quality affordable housing is scarce.

“I am familiar with the landscape within this Promise Zone. I consider this a tremendous opportunity to give back to the communities in the low country, especially since it includes my hometown of Barnwell,” said Bland.

Bland graduated from Barnwell High School (1980), the Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering (1984) and has a Masters of Project Management from Keller Graduate School of Management (2009).

The SCA will accomplish its Promise Zone initiatives with the help of the following key partners: South Carolina Housing Authority; South Carolina Department of Commerce; Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina; South Carolina Department of Agriculture; South Carolina Victim’s Assistance Network; GrowFoods Carolina; Palmetto Project; and, Lowcountry Council of Governments.

Sandra Devoe Bland
Ph: 803.541.0023
Cell: 803.646.6491




Article submitted by: DT Townsend
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions
(803) 952-7566,

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Cypress Creek Renewables Announces Solar Energy Production in Barnwell

Cypress Creek Renewables, a company specializing in the ownership and development of long-term solar energy projects, has announced the construction of a 16-acre solar generating facility in Barnwell, South Carolina. The project, operating as Barnwell Solar, LLC, will produce 5.44 MW of electricity, which will be utilized by SCANA Corporation.

The Barnwell County solar facility, located off Patterson Street in Barnwell, will produce 5.44 megawatts of energy at full capacity, which will be utilized by SCANA Corporation as part of their renewable energy program.

“Cypress Creek is thrilled to be making an important investment in the local economy of Barnwell County. Our company is committed to helping grow the economies of local communities by providing renewable energy for homes and businesses,” said Cypress Creek Renewables CEO Matthew McGovern. “We greatly appreciate the cooperation of our partnering utilities and the local leaders who helped make this project possible.”

“Barnwell County welcomes Cypress Creek Renewables, and we are pleased that our county has another clean energy resource,” said Barnwell County Council Chairman Lowell Jowers. “Barnwell County is once again demonstrating that we advocate innovation in energy production and manufacturing.”

“We appreciate the investment that Cypress Creek Renewables is making in our community in bringing renewable, sustainable energy solutions and the advancements the investment represents in energy production,” said Barnwell County Economic Development Commission Chairman Steve Jowers.

“Cypress Creek Renewables will be an asset to our industrial community and a great addition to the array of ‘green’ industries located in our region,” said Barnwell EDC Director Tommy Boyleston. “We look forward to working with Cypress Creek Renewables in the coming years.”

Cypress Creek Renewables (CCR) is one the largest solar developers in the US. Founded in 2014, CCR’s integrated platform develops, builds, finances and operates local solar farms, spreading clean, affordable energy across the country. The company works in close partnership with landowners, local communities, regulators, lenders and consumers (utilities, businesses and individuals) to bring the highest-quality solar assets online. For more information, visit

For more information on economic development in the region, visit


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Family Nurse Practitioner Program Receives Grant through S.C. Promise Zone

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has announced that USC College of Nursing’s Associate Dean for Practice Dr. Stephanie Burgess has been awarded a grant with support of the SC Promise Zone to increase the number of primary care Family Nurse Practitioners in South Carolina’s rural areas.

Effective July 1, 2017, the HRSA grant of $988,502 will be used to train 30 FNPs per year, for a total of 60, over the term of the grant. The training program has an emphasis on rural and/or underserved communities and populations.

According to Dr. Burgess, Family Nurse Practitioner student clinical training will occur at agencies such as mental health facilities, primary care and women’s health clinics, federally qualified healthcare centers, rural health centers, free clinics, migrant clinics, and hospital/physician/NP owned primary care rural and/or underserved practices.

Eighty percent (80%) of the FNP students selected for funding will meet HRSA eligibility and represent diversity: disadvantaged students (low income, first generation, “Promise Zone” resident, rural or underserved area residents) or under-represented individuals in the nursing profession (minorities -racial or ethnicity, veterans, and/or gender (males).”

Fifty percent will report employment in rural or underserved areas within 6 months after graduation.

The SC Promise Zone, a federal grant initiative, is a designation to reduce poverty in both urban and rural areas. SouthernCarolina Alliance applied for and received the designation in 2013 for the region. The SC Promise Zone designation allows municipalities, government agencies, nonprofits, civic groups and others in the region to receive additional points on federal grant applications which serve the six counties of the Promise Zone (Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper Counties.)

“Health care delivery in rural areas will continue to evolve, as it has over the last twenty years,” said SouthernCarolina Alliance Chairman Buddy Phillips. “Family nurse practitioners trained through this grant will certainly help fill the needs of our communities as part of our overall health care delivery system, thereby improving quality of life for all.”

According to Dr. Burgess, the 21 FNPs completing the most recent FNP training program at USC are now all serving rural communities or underserved populations.

For more information on this opportunity, please contact:


Stephanie Burgess, PhD, APRN, BC, FAANP
Certified Family Nurse Practitioner
Clinical Professor, Associate Dean for Practice and Health Policy
USC, College of Nursing
1601 Greene Street Columbia, SC  29208
803-777-2219 office


Dr. Stephanie Burgess, an Amy V. Cockcroft Leadership Fellow

Under Burgess’ leadership, the nurse practitioner training program at the University of South Carolina was named the #1 NP Program in the US by US NEWS and WORLD REPORT, 2016

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Bamberg purchases 6 patrol cars with USDA grant


In June, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded Bamberg County $225,800 in grant funds and loans through the USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Grant/Loan program.  The grant was endorsed through the SC Promise Zone.  With these funds, the county purchased six new patrol vehicles.

County Sheriff Ed Darnell recognized the substantial award, stating, “It’s a great day in Bamberg County! We can finally dispose of our unreliable vehicles; our officers will be able to go anywhere in the county without fear of a breakdown. I thank Joey Preston, his staff, and county council for taking care of our officers so that we can take care of the people of Bamberg County.”

Bamberg County Administrator Joey Preston and his staff prepared the application to the USDA Community Facilities Loan/Grant Program. This national program provides both grants and loans to support essential services in rural areas.

In 2015, the county replaced seven of its most ineffective vehicles, but the sheriff’s department still operated a few old, unreliable vehicles that posed a hazard to both the deputy and the resident awaiting the deputy’s service.

“We are particularly grateful to the efforts of Karen Phillips (USDA Area Specialist) and John Perry (Bamberg County) to ensure Bamberg County was awarded these funds,” remarked Preston.

The USDA awarded Bamberg County with two separate grant and loan funding packages. The first award includes a grant for $50,000 and a low-interest loan for $63,000, for a total award of $113,000. The second award is a grant for $49,900 and a low-interest loan for $62,900, for a total award of $112,800. These two awards netted the county $225,800 in grant and low-interest loan funds for the purchase of new patrol cars for the county deputies.

”At USDA Rural Development we understand the value and importance of our public safety officials having safe and reliable vehicles,” stated Michele Cardwell, USDA Acting State Director. “We want our rural citizens to feel protected and safe within their homes, schools, and neighborhoods.”

The new patrol vehicles were presented to the public in front of the Bamberg County Courthouse on June 28.

“It is essential that our sheriff’s deputies have reliable vehicles so they are able to serve our citizens,” said Evert Comer Jr., County Council Chairman. “This USDA funding will benefit the sheriff’s department by ensuring they have adequate transportation to do their important work, and the public, by keeping them safe and ensuring timely responses to calls.”


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