100 days to make a difference

The Regional Economic Benchmarking Report for Aiken County, released on May 15, provided much food for thought.  The report was commissioned by the Aiken Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership and identifies the good news, and the areas of concern, for the community. 

The Aiken Chamber is now pursuing the next step to delve into the findings and implications of the report.  The “100 Days to Make a Difference” steering committee is currently underway.  The effort is being led by Dr. Tom Hallman, Pacer Performance, Inc. and Chancellor Emeritus, USC Aiken.  Dr. Hallman served on the Chamber’s Blue Ribbon Panel on the “Next Big Ideas” for Aiken and Aiken County in 2013. 

“The board of directors and I have read, studied, and discussed the benchmarking report at length,” said Aiken Chamber President and CEO J. David Jameson.  “We recognize that we as a community have our work cut out for us.  At the same time, we have much to be proud of and many opportunities on the horizon for our future.  Now is the time to get started, and this steering committee is our first step toward addressing the information in the report,” Jameson said. 

The steering committee will establish a mechanism to share the benchmarking report findings with various groups and to garner input from them.  “Basically, we want to engage a wider group of individuals, so we can all become familiar with critical issues facing our community while understanding those areas of which we should be proud,” Dr. Hallman said. 

He said he envisions a three-pronged approach for the steering committee: 

  1. Get real information and ideas from a broad based group of people
  2. Broaden the understanding and ownership of these ideas beyond the Chamber’s board of directors
  3. Establish a pool of knowledgeable, engaged, and enthusiastic people for review, and perhaps implementation, of some of the ideas in 2015 

“The steering committee consists of experienced Chamber volunteers who will work with a variety of community constituents to gather broad based information.  I look forward to working with this talented group of past and present Chamber volunteers,” Dr. Hallman said. 

The “100 Days to Make a Difference” steering committee will provide its final report to the Chamber’s board of directors in September.  The report will help the board during its planning session in October when it establishes the Chamber’s 2015 program of work.  

The Regional Economic Benchmarking Report for Aiken County was done by Dr. Clifton T. Jones, professor of economics and dean, and Dr. Sanela Porca, professor of economics, School of Business Administration at the University of South Carolina Aiken. The initiative is the direct result of the Aiken Chamber’s Blue Ribbon Panel work in 2013. 

To read the Regional Economic Benchmarking Report for Aiken County, visit http://www.aikenchamber.net/clientuploads/BenchmarkingStudy.pdf.



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