Upstate officials gather to discuss ideas for economic development

Upstate officials met in Greenville Thursday to discuss tools and ideas for further economic development and investment in their respective communities.

Officials also received an update on the government shutdown.

An estimated 70 officials attended, representing cities such as Greer, Anderson, Simpsonville, Traveler’s Rest and Greenville, as well as school district representatives and several local business and organization leaders.

“One of the things that has been an important lesson for the Upstate, something the region has that a lot of other regions don’t have is we have strong downtowns,” said Arnett Muldrow & Associates Principal Tripp Muldrow, who presented economic development case studies from Greer, Pickens, Traveler’s Rest and Pacolet.

The regular gathering of Upstate elected officials began in 2010 through a partnership of the Appalachian Council of Governments, Catawba Regional Council of Governments, Ten at the Top, Upper Savannah Regional Council of Governments, Upstate Chamber Coalition, Upstate Forever and the Upstate SC Alliance. This was the eight meeting.

The focus of the meeting was on ways communities can utilize grants and other tools to develop a sense of place, local vibrancy and economic growth.

“It’s all about how you build your community in a way that attracts that pot of money,” said Appalachian Council of Governments Planning Director Chip Bentley, who also spoke to the group. “You have to create an environment that makes someone want to do that.”

Cindy Crick, a representative from U.S. Congressman Trey Gowdy’s office, also spoke to the gathered officials, though no new information was revealed. The House is primarily working to provide funding to open parks and museums, to provide for funding for the District of Columbia, to address veterans’ affairs issues, to provide funding for medical research such as clinical trials, and to continue paying the National Guard and reservists, she said.

“The fear at this point is that this [issue] is going to merge with the debt-ceiling debate,” she said. “There’s a real possibility that the shutdown is going to continue until we get to that point.”

Lawmakers must raise the nation’s debt ceiling by Oct. 17 or risk default.

By Ashley Boncimino, Staff Reporter with GSA Business