Guest Opinion: Community Development is Economic Development

  • Wednesday, June 11, 2014

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Georgetown is one of many small towns across the country that faces the challenges of growth.

The good thing is, not only is Georgetown rooted in history, culture, and arts but it’s leaders are taking steps to position it for growth.

In addition, it is between two of the most visited cities in South Carolina – Charleston and Myrtle Beach.

How can Georgetown benefit long-term from the vast assets our community has to offer?

In 1998, the county initiated the Capital Improvement Plan. In 2011, the City of Georgetown released a Comprehensive Plan which provided very valuable research and suggestions.

And most recently Economic Developer Tee Miller said one of his goals is to “get this city to a place where our hometown kids want to return to after they go off to college, and start their careers in the city where they grew up.”

To make that happen current residents will need to work toward improving life within the city and county.

Georgetown has many resources that could lead to the change many residents hope for.

Most businesses located on Front Street are owned by local residents. Entrepreneurship is a part of what makes America great.

It leads to job creation – not relocation of jobs but creation of jobs.

We must find a way to make start ups, small businesses, and residents see value in the local economy.

Now that we have revitalized the business district, it is time to revitalize the businesses and prepare new local entrepreneurs for the future.

The people who live here are a valuable economic resource – we are not seasonal tourists. What can we do to keep residents here?

If you’re not a business owner, you will look for a business to employ you. At any given time even the largest employers in the county have few openings.

What are we doing to entice new businesses to Georgetown?

Keep in mind that just because you are a local business you are not limited to local customers. We have cargo ship access to the Atlantic.

We have vacant industrial facilities. There is always the internet. We have career centers, opportunities for adult education and higher education within the county.

If people take advantage of these opportunities, they can make themselves more employable giving Georgetown a workforce that appeals to national and international companies.

Let’s take a look at nearby Mount Pleasant.

Go to http://www.comeonovermp.com/index.aspx?NID=8 and download Mount Pleasant’s business brochure.

The very first page states, “Smart businesses come on over.” Very straight to the point with an appealing scenic picture. On page 3, the reader is clearly informed there are business discounts and employee training programs.

Mount Pleasant’s website has a local business directory. Georgetown’s city and county websites do not even have a list of local business.

This makes it kind of hard for someone who has never visited Georgetown to know what businesses are here. If we are about promoting our businesses our website would be a good place to start.

I looked at the city site to see what an outsider would see. I clicked on the Georgetown Business Association link and the page title reads “It’s just a bridge. Get over it.”

Maybe I’m picky but that is a negative statement. Especially if I’m comparing where to move and just read Mount Pleasant’s “Smart businesses come over.” The mindset of a community is projected in both statements.

One says we’re sarcastic and don’t care about your concerns. The other says you’re intelligent and intelligent people make intelligent decisions, so that is why they are in Mount Pleasant.

May I suggest a slogan such as “Georgetown - bridging the past with the present.” This statement acknowledges our history but also says right now is equally important.

One thing I love about Georgetown is the small town feel. I am not contradicting myself, we need growth otherwise a small town will become a ghost town.

Our police department has a Student Leadership Development program.

The local chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated is active in the youth community and so are other groups.

Not only do our youth need opportunities we need more personal development in the general population.

How much small town feel can we have if we only do what is within our comfort zone?

In a small town practically everyone knows each other. My proposal is let’s really build a community where everyone is accountable for helping each other.

Let’s erase age, gender, skin color and other ignorance that divide us.

When I relocated, my daughter and I visited a few churches. One Sunday we attended a church with an all Black congregation.

The next Sunday we went to an all White congregation. Is there something wrong with this picture?


I can’t tell people where to worship but I can tell you that division is not worship.

If we want real development we are going to have to first develop real community.

In conclusion here what we can do together:

1. Let’s support our local businesses.

2. Let’s support and encourage leaders to bring in jobs that college graduates would come back home for.

3. Let’s build community by fellowshipping with each other through worship and community service.

Rhonda Green, a Georgetown native is the daughter of Ed and Leomia Green. Rhonda attended public schools in Georgetown and received her BA in Government and International Studies from USC. Rhonda serves on the City of Georgetown Zoning Appeals Board, volunteers at Tidelands Hospice and has been an instrumental voice in the recent community concerns surrounding Howard Gym.

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