Task force supports key Chamber initiative

What is needed to complete Aiken’s economic future? The Aiken Chamber of Commerce is determined to find the answer.

Which cities in America would inspire Aiken’s business, government, education and civic leaders to find what is necessary to complete Aiken’s economic picture. A newly formed Chamber task force will work to recommend those aspirational cities for a future intercity visit by a diverse delegation of Aiken’s leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

The task force, led by board member Jimmy Angelos, URS – PS, will help identify cities similar to Aiken that have found renewed success. “The ultimate goal of the task force is to recommend cities the Chamber and community leadership could visit to learn what the cities did to achieve this renewed success,” said Angelos.

The task force held its organizational meeting September 17th. “Basically, we will be going through a process as we look at Aiken in five to 10 years and define how to enhance its attractiveness and appeal and to promote economic growth. The Regional Economic Benchmarking Report for Aiken County will definitely play a role in the process,” he said.

“Our first step is to establish the criteria we need to help us identify those cities that have made transformational changes to enhance their future viability. After that, we can move forward with studying a condensed list of potential cities to learn about their strengths, best practices, collaborations, lessons learned, and community partnerships,” Angelos said.

The work of the task force supports the Chamber’s initiative “to research, establish criteria, and arrange for visits to other aspirational cities, where local leaders will travel to and learn about best practices that have been successful in other regions.”

The initiative is part of the Chamber’s 2014 program of work, which launches a multi-year process that creates viable, proactive mechanisms that drive a force for Aiken’s prosperity in the 21st century through economic vitality initiatives. The purpose of the organization’s long-term course of work is to:

• reawaken and re-engage the general public and business community about the needs necessary for business growth and job creation
• raise awareness of the fact that business climate is the #1 factor of a successful community
• begin a five-year evolving plan that leads to the community’s long-term prosperity through taking risk, rewarding success, and growing families

The task force will seek unique cities that have features the Aiken community can identify with. “We will be looking at our own community’s strengths as well as identifying where we may have some gaps. At the same time, we will be looking at how to help enhance our community through growth that benefits our citizens,” Angelos said.

The task force will present its recommendations to the Chamber’s board of directors at the regular monthly board meeting in January 2015. 

Members of the task force are: 

Jimmy Angelos, Chair
URS – PS 

Collette Ball
State Farm Insurance, Ball Agency 

Brian Coulter
First Presbyterian Church of Aiken 

Gene Eidson, Ph.D.
Clemson University 

Ellen Priest
Aiken Communications, Inc., Aiken Standard 

Arthur “Buzz” Rich
Attorney 

Chris Verenes
Security Federal Bank 

Will Williams
Economic Development Partnership 

Bart Blackwell, Ex officio
B & S Machine Tool, Inc.
Chair-elect
Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce 

J. David Jameson, Ex officio
President/CEO
Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce

 

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