Overview of the Aiken Chamber Equine Program
•Created an Equine Industry Task Force to determine if the Chamber and the business community were providing the goods and services to meet the equine industry needs.
•Commissioned a study to determine the economic impact of the equine industry on the community. The study, “An Economic Profile of Aiken County and the Economic Impact of the Equine Industry,” was completed by the University of South Carolina Aiken (USCA) School of Business and revealed that the equine industry’s economic impact in Aiken County tops $71.81 million annually.
•Created the Equine Support Council (ESC) to begin working on the goal of preserving and growing the area’s equine industry through four sub committees – Conservation/Open Space/Integrated Trails, Horse Park, Governmental Affairs, and Marketing.
•A report prepared for the State of South Carolina by Tourism Development International (TDI) of Dublin, Ireland, recommended the creation of the Aiken International Horse Park (AIHP) as the centerpiece for a resurgence of tourism in the Scenic Savannah River Region (SSRR), a group of nine counties along the Savannah River in central South Carolina.
•Hired a manager of Equine Development to spearhead efforts to grow and preserve the $72 million-plus equine industry in Aiken County.
•ESC established three goals – two long-term and one short-term.
Long-term: (1) Establish an integrated equine trail system; (2) Study the TDI Aiken International Horse Park recommendation
Short-term: Host an Equine Performing Arts Series (2010-11) to showcase the various disciplines and to assist the community in understanding them
•Released a white paper outlining a vision for an International Horse Park in Aiken County.
•Collaborated with Aiken County Parks, Recreation and Tourism (PRT) and the Aiken Land Conservancy (ALC) to create the Greater Aiken Integrated Trails Foundation (GAIT), an important step to advance ESC’s integrated trails goal.
•Commissioned Dr. Simon Hudson, Director of the Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development from the USC College of Hospitality, Retail, and Sports Management, to conduct an International Horse Park Feasibility Study (released August 16, 2012).