Promise Zone unveils long-term, strategic action plan for region

PromiseZone_logo_80wMARCH 4, 2016  — A broad, long-term strategic action plan for the six-county S.C. Lowcountry Promise Zone envisions a collaborative effort to provide omnipresent regional high-speed Internet access, develop a shovel-ready mega-site for jobs, build a sustainability culture, and reshape public education and health care, leaders announced today.

“This new plan is the fruit of a lot of hard work by hundreds of people throughout our six-county region,” said Danny Black, president and CEO of the SouthernCarolina Regional Development Alliance.  It is the lead organization of the Promise Zone.  “We’ve got big dreams that will transform our region if we continue to work together to use the blessings offered by the Promise Zone.  By focusing on the goals of this plan, we can reduce poverty by creating more jobs, improving education, reducing crime and building more opportunities for our citizens.”

Since September, the Promise Zone has attracted $11.6 million in federal grants and loans.  At the same time, SouthernCarolina Alliance has catalyzed $404.9 million in capital investment, which will create at least 251 new jobs.  The Promise Zone designation allows the 40-plus partners and supporting organizations involved with the program to get preferential consideration in winning federal funding from 14 federal agencies.

In recent months, Promise Zone efforts led to town hall meetings in six counties involving more than 650 people, eight strategic planning sessions with scores of professionals working in the region, and meetings with top local and state officials to ensure expansive, collaborative participation was the core of the strategic planning effort.

Long-term transformational ideas that will drive the Promise Zone process over the next few years include:

  • Development of high-speed broadband Internet networks to provide access to citizens and to help make the region more attractive to business growth.
  • Attracting public and private investment to develop a shovel-ready mega-site for industrial development in targeted clusters to develop jobs.
  • Building a sustainability culture to take advantage of regional assets, particularly in agriculture, technology, tourism and energy.
  • Transforming public education and health care through innovation, collaboration and hard work.

“The depth, breadth and scope of this long-term strategic plan is impressive,” said SouthernCarolina Alliance Chairman Buddy Phillips of Hampton.  “A lot of hard work has gone into working together to create this plan that should guide us as we work to transform our region.”

Zone partners, supporters already working on big projects

The new strategic plan also offers six near-term projects that partners and supporters are currently working on to jumpstart transformational change.  In addition to work being done to expand high-speed broadband Internet and develop a shovel-ready, industrial mega-site, four additional near-term projects include:

  • Investing in a regional forensic lab and training center to focus crime-reduction efforts.
  • Creating a broad Learning/Vocational Center of Excellence to serve regional education and workforce training needs.
  • Building a Medical Center of Excellence to deliver more accessible, high-quality medical services in underserved communities.
  • Establishing a Technology Village and a landing pad in a central business location as a regional technology headquarters.

The plan also includes several other “Innovation Projects” as well as goals for each of eight targeted workgroups that are expected to meet frequently to discuss how they’re working individually and collaboratively to achieve goals in their areas.

The South Carolina Lowcountry Promise Zone, a project of the SouthernCarolina Alliance, seeks to catalyze efforts in Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties to boost the quality of life and revitalize rural communities.  

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