Excerpted from the Orangeburg Times and Democrat, July 12, 2015:
DENMARK — Residents at a Wednesday morning town hall meeting cited a new state-of-the art hospital, industrial growth and enhancement of workforce-training programs as priorities as the community pursues federal dollars.
“This is not a pot of money out there waiting for us to go pick up,” Andy Brack, president of the non-partisan Center for a Better South told 50 to 75 individuals gathered at the Massachusetts Hall on the Voorhees College campus to hear about the region’s newly acquired federal Promise Zone designation and how to reap the benefits from the designation. “It is a potential pot of money waiting for us to go and pick up but we got to work to get it.”
Promise Zones are high-poverty communities where the federal government partners with local leaders to increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, leverage private investment, reduce violent crime, enhance public health and address other priorities identified by the community.
The area, including Bamberg County, will be eligible to apply for and receive federal grant monies over the next decade.
Charles Weathers of the Columbia-based Weathers Group said the grants are “not an entitlement program.”
“Today is the beginning of the work,” Weathers said. “You are not only going to be a cheerleaders but a player in the game. … I want to use the past as a foundation to build on, but not an anchor to hold us down. The seven last words of a dying community are, ‘We have never done it that way before.'”