Board discusses countywide issues
By Stephan Drew, Editor
The Darlington County Economic Development Partnership met on Wednesday, September 21, to discuss issues including school system needs as well as business and industrial projects.
The DCEDP membership consists of 13 members who perform the functions of planning, developing, maintaining, equipping, advising, benchmarking and evaluating the county’s economic development programs and activities. They are also responsible for working with state and federal agencies in securing available grants and other financial assistance for industries.
The group is headed by Lewis Brown, Executive Director and Robert Kilgo, Deputy Director. There are 13 members: Greg Alexander, Tom Batterbee, Don Bockoven, Leo Bonaparte, Roger Buckley, Don Clark, Danny Hogge, Jim Ivey, Ryan Nettles, Jeff Singletary, Jason Speake, and Barry Taylor. Not all members could be present for the Wednesday meeting.
For nearly 3 years, the group has been reaching out to industry and educators to discover the specific needs of businesses and schools in our area and have promoted approximately $500 million in countywide projects. They also work towards helping students find more opportunity and assist schools who are gearing educational programs toward business and employment needs.
Barry Taylor explained their endeavors when he said, “Over the past couple of years, this group has made an effort to reach out to the industry within Darlington County to see what the needs were. We try to support both new industry and existing industry. We’ve got a good representation of our industry here with us today.”
Taylor then described the importance of the Workforce Development Program. “Workforce Development is our number one concern. Where is our next generation of workers coming from?” he said.
Director Lewis Brown told the group of his recent meeting with Dr. Tim Newman, Superintendent of the Darlington County School System. When they discussed an informational
video the group was planning to put in schools, Brown said, “Dr. Newman told me, ‘You won’t hold their attention long enough. Put it on TikTok.”
Deputy Director Bobby Kilgo gave an update on the I-20 Park. Kilgo said, “We are 80% complete with the clearing of the stumps and trees and we are working on the entrance sign to be constructed.” He went on to explain that the recertification of the park is almost complete and has a new master plan.
Brown told the group they have added 7 new members and that his goal is to have 60 by year’s end. Brown stated, “We have about a 20% increase in members as well as contributions compared to last year.”
The group’s annual business meeting will be held on November 9th at the Darlington Country Club.