Department of Commerce Holds 21st Annual Rural Summit

COLUMBIA, S.C. – March 8, 2011 – On Monday Governor Nikki Haley and the South Carolina Department of Commerce gathered leaders from across South Carolina for the 21st annual Rural Summit to hear an informative and inspiring program that challenged attendees to return home to improve their local community. The 2011 South Carolina Rural Summit was held at the Newberry Firehouse Conference Center in Newberry, S.C.  The Rural Summit is an annual educational event at which rural community leaders, economic developers, state officials and specialists share ideas, experiences and practical knowledge to improve rural South Carolina. Governor Nikki Haley and Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt spoke at this year’s Summit to share their vision and ideas for further development and improvements in rural areas throughout the state. “As a native of Bamberg, I understand the challenges facing the rural communities and the importance of local involvement. Bringing jobs to every region of our state - not just to Charleston and Greenville and Lexington - is the highest priority of my administration, and today was a great chance for many of the players in that effort to get together.  The good news is, I'm on the phone every day with companies looking to relocate - and they want to call South Carolina home.  It's up to us to get them here, quickly, and as I always say, can't is not an option,” said Governor Haley.The Department of Commerce also continued its commitment to honor those individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the economic development of South Carolina’s rural communities. While many individuals throughout the state work hard to build stronger, more prosperous communities, this year’s Rural Summit provided a platform to acknowledge individuals that have made particularly significant contributions to the rural communities in South Carolina.“For all areas of South Carolina to prosper economically, it takes creative, courageous and committed leadership to step out of the box and facilitate change on the local and regional levels.  This year’s Rural Summit Award winners exemplify the leadership necessary to take South Carolina to the next level and to enhance our competitiveness,” said Secretary Hitt.  “I challenge other leaders throughout our state to make a difference in their communities as this year’s award winners have.”To honor these individuals, the awards for Rural Leadership, Rural Education and Palmetto Partnership were all presented by Governor Haley and Secretary Hitt.  A description of the awards and recipients are as follows: Rural Leadership - Peter Arnoti, Economic DeveloperThe Rural Leadership award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated effective leadership skills and has addressed issues of both short and long-term significance to community growth.  Over his 25 year career, Peter Arnoti has challenged his county leaders to take the necessary steps to create change to raise the competitiveness of each county. Leaders in McCormick, Marion, Greenwood and Colleton counties have benefited from Peter’s diligence and perseverance as he served as their local economic developer. He has also shared his message with communities throughout South Carolina.Peter is an active member and past president of the South Carolina Economic Developers’ Association, member of the Southern Economic Development Council and other economic development associations. While serving 25 years in Colleton and Greenwood counties, Peter was successful in securing over $2.3 billion in new manufacturing investment, the creation of over 5,100 jobs and the development of South Carolina’s first biotechnology incubation facility in Greenwood. Rural Education - Vickie Tyner, Director, Pee Dee Workforce Investment Board The Rural Education award recognizes an individual who has improved South Carolina’s rural education system either through volunteer efforts or daily commitments. This year’s recipient exemplifies the leadership necessary to make educational and workforce readiness changes in our state.Vickie Tyner serves as Workforce Development Director for the Pee Dee Workforce Investment Board and has led efforts to embrace strategic development, promote excellence and test cutting-edge endeavors through numerous partnerships throughout the Pee Dee.  Vickie serves as chairwoman of the Northeastern Education and Business Alliance, which promotes regional career education collaboration.   Palmetto Partnership Award – Heather Stallworth of Catalyst ArchitectsAnsley Rast - Turnblad of the SC Department of AgricultureJohn Harmon of the SC Department of CorrectionsThis year’s Palmetto Partnership Award recognizes three individuals who have worked on behalf of their organizations to successfully roll-out and promote the Rural Produce Stand program introduced at the 2009 Rural Summit.  Because of their efforts, 30 produce stands have been located in 16 rural counties with 19 stands pending placement later this year.The Rural Produce Stand program was developed to promote locally grown produce and generate revenue for local growers, and create economic activity in local communities. Stands have been placed along roadsides throughout our state and in several downtown business districts.-###-