S.C. Department of Commerce hosts 28th 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 5 and Tuesday, March 6 for the 2018 South Carolina Rural Summit. Held in Columbia, S.C., this year’s event featured leadership development sessions, opportunities to share best practices between community leaders, an awards ceremony and presentations from a variety of speakers, including Governor Henry McMaster and Giti Tire’s Hank Eisenga.

Now in its 28th year, the Rural Summit provides community leaders, economic developers and state officials the opportunity to come together and learn about 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 Redefining Place, Community and Quality of Life.

“In economic development, our job is to bring opportunities to all corners of the state. With nearly one out of every three South Carolinians residing in a rural area, the economic well-being of our smaller communities is critical,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt. “That’s why the Rural Summit is such an important initiative for Team South Carolina. It’s a great way to bring all the players together and have productive discussions on ways to advance the rural communities in our state.”

Four awardees were recognized during the awards ceremony portion of this week’s conference, among them were: Sonoco; AME, Inc.; and Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School students Dalton Nicholas Compton and Savannah Allen Williams.  

The 2018 Rural Manufacturer Award was presented to Sonoco, a global provider of packaging products and services. Headquartered in Hartsville, S.C., the company has been an integral member of the Darlington County business community for 118 years. In fact, Sonoco has grown to become South Carolina’s largest publically traded firm, by annual sales. Sonoco President and Chief Executive Officer Jack Sanders accepted the award on behalf of the company.

As the recipient of the 2018 Outreach Enrichment Award, AME, Inc. was recognized during the event for actively participating in S.C. Commerce’s supplier development outreach opportunities. AME, Inc. owner Jeff Campbell accepted the award on behalf of the company. The purpose of the agency’s supplier development program is to connect South Carolina businesses with in-state suppliers and vendors.

Rural Summit Scholastic Achievement Awards were presented to two Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School students – Dalton Nicholas Compton and Savannah Allen Williams of Bamberg County. The awards recognized the students not only for their academic achievements but also for service to their community and school. Both students received a $2,500 scholarship.

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