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County, city to create new tourism post

Chamber to continue focus on small business

Posted: February 10, 2012 4:35 p.m.
Updated: February 13, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Kershaw County and the city of Camden have announced plans to move tourism promotion in a different direction with the creation of a new director of tourism position.

Kershaw County Council Chairman Gene Wise said at council’s work session Thursday that the city and county have agreed to jointly fund the new position slated to be filled by July 1.

According to Wise, the county’s official tourism agency is currently the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, but its role will be changed to solely concentrate on promoting business interests. The chamber will also remain as the county’s visitors center, according to Wise.

“They did an outstanding job for the county with the resources that they had available,” Wise said of the chamber. “But they’re at a point in their mission where they would like to relinquish that.”

He also recognized the work of Liz Horton, executive director of the chamber.

“I know you want to get back to the core roles of what chambers do,” Wise said, “making small business more prosperous, making more small businesses come here. That’s a huge payoff, so we appreciate it very much.” 

Horton said she is looking forward to working with the city and the county on the new venture. 

“We’re very pleased that we will be able to partner with you guys, but also that the chamber can now refocus its mission on small business development, economic development and public policy issues, which is what most chambers’ missions are,” Horton said.

Wise noted the new tourism director will need to be highly experienced.

“We don’t have time to develop talent through training programs. We want to buy the talent. We want people who already know how to do it, somebody who has a successful track record. This will be very similar to how we handled the economic development position,” he said. “We’re going to advertise, get resumes in and have a search process, and then we’re going to go through an interview process. This individual will be in charge of organizing all the events in the county, developing new events and marketing events.”

Wise indicated in an interview before Thursday’s meeting that he’s been concentrating on developing tourism opportunities since being elected as council chairman last November.

“I’ve been meeting with these tourism groups and this whole culture and community, including Historic Camden, the Fine Arts Center, the equine industry, the shooting ranges, the Motorsports Park, and other areas, and they all have an interest in tourism. As a result of that, I also met with the city, Mayor (Jeffrey) Graham, Kevin Bronson, and we had a good discussion of tourism and how we can take it to a higher level.”

Graham said he is very excited to work with the county on this collaborative effort.  

“You’ve got to have your image out there and I think that’s something we can do a better job of as a county and a city,” he said. “We want someone who is ready to hit the ground running, someone who is ready to build our community when it comes to promoting what we have to offer and sharing some of those treasures that we have. And it’s not just about marketing only to our area; it’s about marketing to the world.

He added that the chamber will continue to provide a key role as far as economic development.

“They’ve been a good partner over the years, but this is a new day for our county and our city and I believe our chamber will be right there with us making sure that business opportunities continue to happen.”

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