Hartsville talks economic development, hashtags at work session

By Samantha Lyles


Hartsville City Council convened a work session on Jan. 5 to strategize ways to grow business, increase residency, and encourage community unity. City manager Daniel Moore presented a short meeting agenda with the most salient ideas from months of input distilled into three goals: 1 – Adopt a vision for the city. 2 – Employees, citizens, and business community understands and embraces the vision. 3 – Develop a vision “campaign” slogan or motto. Moore said that to implement these goals, the city plans to communicate this vision to employees and citizens, create a bumper sticker phrase or hashtag, and send positive stories about Hartsville to the media. Mayor Mel Pennington observed that while the overall plan is worthwhile, he would like to see more “how” strategies in addition to the “why” components. “As a small town, how do we remain small in our approach, but sophisticated? How do we preserve the quality of life that you love, not having traffic jams, not having 40 minute commutes?” Pennington said. The mayor also questioned how Hartsville could realize some of the social goals referenced in the strategic plan. “Opportunities for all citizens to be engaged and feel united – I read through some of that stuff and I’m like, that’s nothing that we’ve done. We haven’t invited a panel in to say what’s important to you,” Pennington said, noting that the quality of life theme should include opportunities for every citizen of Hartsville. On the subject of economic development, members of City Council voiced dissatisfaction over the lack of forward motion in industrial growth, and some wondered if Hartsville would be better off handling its own marketing in these matters, rather than relying on Darlington County to take the lead. “We put in a business park, we’ve got an opportunity zone. We’ve done all of what we thought were the right things to get those things going, and we really haven’t see the benefit of either of those,” said Mayor Pro Tem Johnny Andrews. “I don’t know what you have to do to jump start these things.” Pennington said that having these business-friendly zones is just one part of the equation, and being in a “receiver mode” won’t bring results. He said that Moore is trying to reconfigure Hartsville toward a “driver / recruit mode.” “We can sit back and say we’ve got all these things … or we can send people out to look for (investors). That’s the part we haven’t been able to do successfully, is nail down somebody to get out there and recruit. Maybe we’re handicapped because we don’t control economic development as the county structure, per se. We’ve talked about this a long time, about controlling our own destiny,” Pennington said. He said the city plans to send up several “signal flares” to potential partners, just to let them know that Hartsville has a growth mindset and wants them to consider locating in the business park or joining the downtown business community. Though city staffers and members of council tossed dozens of ideas at the wall during the two-hour session, the notion of coining a local hashtag for social media and promotional use proved uniquely sticky. Moore presented a few “edgy” options (#unapologetic and #gottabehartsville among them) intended to enhance hometown pride and promote positive aspects of the city, but the top candidate was the simplest – and least haughty – of the bunch, as shown in a sample social media post: “Hartsville is a thriving small town with vibrant and walkable neighborhoods, and a flourishing business community. There is a wealth of opportunities for home grown talent to return or never want to leave. Because #itshartsville.”

Author: Stephan Drew

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