Tuesday’s economic development summit, hosted by the Kershaw County Economic Development Office, was well-organized, well-attended and informative. Certainly, it is helpful to have experts in the field discuss the ins and outs of industrial recruitment and high-end economic development.
At the end of the forum, we were left with a few major takeaways. One, according to the experts, Kershaw County seems to be making the right moves -- with the VisionKershaw 2030 plan as a guide and with the subsequent investments made in economic development -- and is encouraged and recommended to do more. To paraphrase keynote speaker Didi Caldwell, “if anything, Kershaw County could be even more aggressive.” The phrase, “Stay the course,” was emphasized numerous times by numerous people throughout the evening.
Another takeaway seems to be that the game of industrial recruitment/economic development is a long-term game and it is both expensive and uncertain. While the experts all shared their enthusiastic confidence that good things are in store for Kershaw County if we just continue to make these investments in ourselves, there is -- as is always the case in the real world -- no guarantee that anything will happen, at least not any time soon, nor is there any way to feasibly and accurately predict if/when these planted seeds will bear fruit.
On the other hand, the experts were resolute in their certainty that Kershaw County absolutely will not be competitive at all if it doesn’t make those investments.
We came away from the forum feeling like the patient who is told that newly tested, very expensive and somewhat radical surgery is the only option left to save his life -- and while the odds are better than average that the surgery will work, it’s not guaranteed.
While the C-I has reported, in-depth, on the county’s lack of success in landing new industries, we can now only sincerely hope that our economic development team -- local, regional and state -- and our elected officials are correct in the direction they are leading us.
Whether or not one likes spending money on something that does not show immediate or even mid-term results, we do understand the concept. So, it appears to us the choice -- whether palatable or not -- is inevitable.
That is, if we are serious about being a player in economic development, then we do, in fact, need to stay the course -- even if the result turns out to be something only our grandchildren will enjoy.