S.C. Department of Commerce holds annual South Carolina Rural Summit

State honors individuals for leadership in rural economic development

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The S.C. Department of Commerce gathered leaders from across the state on Monday, March 6 and Tuesday, March 7 for the 2017 South Carolina Rural Summit. Held at the Pawleys Plantation Conference Center on Pawleys Island, S.C., this year’s event featured leadership development sessions, opportunities to share best practices between community leaders, an awards ceremony and presentations from several keynote speakers, including former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley.

Now in its 27th year, the Rural Summit provides community leaders, economic developers and state officials the opportunity to come together to learn of innovative methods to improve rural South Carolina. Additionally, the Summit serves as a venue to honor individuals for work they’ve done to advance their respective communities. This year’s event was themed Finding Our Sense of Place and Community.

“Home to approximately 20 percent of South Carolina’s labor force, rural communities are critical to the economic future of our state,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt. “This year’s Rural Summit was a great platform for Team South Carolina to recognize the outstanding work done in these communities, as well as discuss how we can best support them moving forward.”

Five awardees were recognized during the awards ceremony portion of last week’s conference, among them were: The Mill HouseCarolina Canners, Inc.; Handling Services, Inc.; Alvina Emran of Horry County; and S.C. Commerce project manager Ted Campbell.

As the recipient of the 2017 Community Development Award, The Mill House was recognized for its role in the continued growth of uptown Greenwood, S.C. With ever-expanding dining and brewery establishments on Maxwell Avenue, this local company has helped turn uptown Greenwood into a true food and entertainment destination. The Mill House owners Gianpaolo “Geep” Bonaca and Paul Bartolomeo accepted the award.

The 2017 Rural Manufacturer Award was presented to Carolina Canners, Inc., an independent Pepsi bottler and production cooperative. Established in Cheraw, S.C. in 1968, the company has expanded multiple times over the last four decades. In 2016, Carolina Canners announced its latest expansion – a $45 million project expected to generate 70 new jobs. Vice President of Manufacturing David Rhine accepted the award on behalf of the company.

As the recipient of the 2017 Outreach Enrichment Award, Handling Services, Inc. and its owners Matthew Ellison and Stephanie Hovanec were recognized during the event for actively participating in S.C. Commerce's Indirect Supplier Outreach Event.

The 2017 Rural Summit Scholastic Achievement Award was presented to Alvina Emran of Horry County. As a senior at Socastee High School, Emran has been attending Scholars Academy, which is located on the campus of Coastal Carolina University, since her freshman year. A volunteer at a local organization that serves meals to the homeless, she is also involved in the arts. Emran has been selected to participate in All-County, All-State and All-Region Orchestras. And, last year, she was named to the 2016 All-National Orchestra.

S.C. Commerce also recognized one of its own with the Rural Development Project Leader Award – an honor that goes to the project manager who has had the most positive impact on rural South Carolina. For the second consecutive year, Ted Campbell, a senior project manager, was the recipient of this award. In 2016, he accounted for the announcement of more than 580 new jobs and capital investments of approximately $156 million in rural South Carolina. This equates to six new projects in six different rural counties.

For photos of this year’s event, including the awards ceremony, please visit the S.C. Commerce flickr page.

About S.C. Department of Commerce
As South Carolina's leading economic development agency, the Department of Commerce works to recruit new businesses and help existing business grow. Commerce has recruited world-class companies to South Carolina such as BMW, Boeing, Continental, Giti Tire, LPL Financial Holdings, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Toray and Volvo Cars and also supports startups, small and existing business, innovation and rural development initiatives. Commerce partners with the S.C. Technical College System via readySC to support workforce training and recruiting, and with theS.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, which provides worker training and employment opportunities within the state. In three of five years, IBM-Plant Location International reports ranked South Carolina first in the nation for attracting jobs through foreign investment, per capita. The state won the Gold Shovel Award and the Project of Year Award from Area Development magazine in 2012, 2014 and 2015. For more information, visit www.SCcommerce.com.