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Letter: We have a college town in Kershaw County

Posted: February 12, 2018 3:24 p.m.
Updated: February 13, 2018 1:00 a.m.

We said emphatically that “Kershaw County is open for business,” when we cut the ribbon on Thursday on the new college campus in the county seat; and, we acted decisively on Vision 2030 with the courage to invest in a better future.

We placed yet another exclamation point on our commitment to enterprise and growth! -- with the incentives for expansion so that the vital beat of commerce can sustain the jobs needed for our children and grandchildren to enjoy wholesome, happy lives, to work and worship and live right here in Kershaw County. We say “Yes” for a vision of a better future. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, “… to the mountain top.”

It is the work of this generation to sacrifice and to labor today on behalf of the next. I have heard some voices continue to say, “no.” I say to them, “If ‘no’ is the answer then you need to change the question!” Kershaw County is on the field and in the hunt! Rather than sit on the sidelines, all of us join with those who view our future in the affirmative as did the school board in this joint campus with ATEC and CCTC. A good thing is happening, and there is a “big tent”, with room enough and with work enough for us all. Who can be backward now? This is about “we” and “us” and not about one side or the other being in the right. We need everyone. “We the People.”

And just look: look at what we are doing. And just in time, too. With dramatic growth in the student population in Kershaw County and the pressures from the global economy, clearly, an aggressive approach is needed to encourage current business and to win new industry here.

The signals continue to hold steady: our industry partners in Kershaw County are here and in force to witness to the need for these buildings, and to the need for ATEC, too! And we tell those of you in commerce and in industry that we hear you. We know you are telling us by your presence that industry comes and industry grows where the citizens of this county invest, invest in themselves: invest in product in these industrial sites, and invest in transportation and infrastructure and in proximity to lines of communication. This place is our doorway to global business, with the flags of China and Germany just on the other side of the wood line from this CCTC campus. It is a complex economy and we are standing at its cross roads. It is the right place for CCTC. It is the right place for ATEC.

We could not be here without the support of some other folks we must recognize.

First, our county council members, led first by Gene Wise, who set aside county funds for this effort. And our school board, led by Mara Jones, Ron Blackmon, and now the Rev. Dr. James Smith.

Second, the hard-working county team led by Vic Carpenter upon whom rested the task of execution. Vic Carpenter, Pete Furlong, Russ VanPatten, Sarah Williams, Peggy McLean, Lauren Reeder: “on time-under budget.”

Third, our town councils of Elgin and Camden and Bethune and our wonderful chamber of commerce and E100 Team. And our CTC, led by Nancy Gregory, and Commissioner Gene Branham, and Chris McKinney from the Santee Lynches COG who are already helping us on the roads we need here.

We are now a “college town”: so, we thank the CCTC Board with Mac Summers, and our own county members, Terry Hancock and Paul Napper and Tim Hopkins, supported by Dr. Tim Hardee and now the executive director, Dr. Mike Mikota, with Dennis Stuber, Sherri Barret and the Facilities Corporation.

Lastly, we thank our delegation, senators Sheheen and McElveen, and Laurie Funderburk … mustering the public support and providing much needed resources to make our way.

All these wonderful people and this new building are testimony that we dream big and believe in ourselves -- that we can compete in the global economy ... not only against Atlanta or Charleston, but against Shanghai, Zurich, Milan and London. Here in these CCTC classrooms, with this world-class faculty, is where that effort is to be waged and sustained.

It is said that, “If you want meat, you gotta hunt.” Or, as my old Army First Sergeant used to say: “Eat fast and stay hungry.” We are indeed hungry in Kershaw County: We are open for business, right here, right now.

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