Heather Jones, economic development director, gives the keynote address at the annual Chamber dinner.
By Greg Deal | Shorelines Magazine Editor & Publisher
The McCormick County Chamber of Commerce annual dinner meeting provided a wealth of high-quality information about helping our county grow. It all starts with recognizing the positives this area currently offers, and “speaking with the same voice” about the value of McCormick County as the “Gem of the Freshwater Coast.”
Guest speaker Heather Jones, economic development director, echoed what Chamber Board of Directors Chairperson Kirk Smith discussed in his State of the Chamber address. Smith talked about where we are headed with the Blueway project (which focuses on the wonders of nature in the region), the Rails to Trails Project, and other outdoor enhancements to the quality of life in the McCormick County and Savannah Lakes region. Smith also thanked business leaders, state and local representatives, and many others for working hard to present a positive image of the community, the lake-borne recreation and the downtown areas.
Jones has spent years in economic development, and she spoke with one voice in calling others to do the same when it comes to the community. She said we, as a county, must leverage our strengths, get on the same page and speak with the same voice. These are among the “current” things people can do to enhance the image of the area and sow the seeds for growth.
She also said it is very important for business and community leaders — and residents — to speak in a positive voice about the area. She said you never know if the person you are talking to might just be a prospective business owner or investor. In that respect, all of us are selling McCormick County and SLV. Jones also said we need to think regionally, but in a different context: We should not be afraid to seize multi-county opportunities that enhance quality of life for both counties and forge quality inter-county relationships.
As for future growth, Jones broke things down into four areas: 1. Get the product ready; 2. Get the people ready and prepared with skills, education and training; 3. Get the processes ready (things should be streamlined, site-ready and business friendly, with low risk). 4. And get funding in line to prepare — and support — future growth. She said we should align priorities with future growth.
Jones said that rather than complain about what needs to be done, we should all “suit up, get in the game, increase the score, and win economic development.” We can all make a contribution somewhere to improve the quality of life and the attractiveness of the county as a place to live and do business.
Speaking with the “same voice” and “telling the same story” about the county and Savannah Lakes Village have been a major priorities of SLV Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Kirk Smith, who touts our area’s wonderful natural resources and its history as being prime selling points for this region.
The event took place at the McCormick Senior Center and was emceed by Chamber Director Anne Barron, who honored friends of the Chamber who recently passed away.