Center to facilitate Promise Zone town hall meetings

A bluegrass group jams at a June event on David Anderson's organic blueberry farm in Bamberg County in the middle of the Promise Zone.

A bluegrass group jams at a June event on David Anderson’s organic blueberry farm in Bamberg County in the middle of the Promise Zone.

JUNE 24, 2015 — The Center for a Better South will coordinate and conduct a series of six town hall meetings in July in the recently-announced Promise Zone that encompasses six challenged counties at the southern tip of South Carolina.

“This is a phenomenal chance to interact with neighbors and leaders throughout Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties to share with them about the huge opportunities that the Promise Zone designation provides to grow jobs, improve education and reduce crime,” said Andy Brack, president and chairman of the Center. “These town hall sessions throughout July also will give people a chance to have their say about the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities as the region pushes forward to embrace new ways to tap into federal money to vastly improve people’s lives.”

On April 28, the Obama Administration announced the six counties in the Southern Carolina region won the nation’s second rural Promise Zone designation. Only 20 of the special designations are to be awarded across the nation. The innovative program allows Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties to access into federal money and other opportunities in new ways to grow jobs, improve education and reduce crime. The Southern Carolina Regional Development Alliance is coordinating the effort with the six county governments and an array of public, private and nonprofit partners.

The Alliance has contracted with the Center to conduct the town hall meetings, a key step in developing a long-term strategic plan to coordinate the myriad opportunities provided by the designation, Brack said. The Center will work with The Weathers Group, based in Columbia, S.C., to facilitate the town hall meetings.

“We’d like to encourage as many people in the counties to attend these town hall meetings so that we get as diverse and broad of community input as we can,” Brack added. “It’s open to students, neighborhood leaders, elected officials, business executives, nonprofit leaders and more.”

Here is the schedule of meetings in July:

Allendale County Town Hall meeting

  • WHEN: 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., July 8, 2015 (doors open at 4 p.m.)
  • WHERE: Science Administration Building, 465 James Brandt Blvd., USC-Salkehatchie, Allendale
  • PARKING: Large parking lot outside of the building

Bamberg County Town Hall meeting

  • WHEN: 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., July 8, 2015 (doors open at 7:30 a.m.)
  • WHERE: Massachusetts Hall, Voorhees College, 213 Wiggins Dr., Denmark, SC
  • PARKING: Adjacent to Massachusetts Hall

Barnwell County Town Hall meeting

  • WHEN: 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., July 9, 2015 (doors open at 7:30 a.m.)
  • WHERE: Edisto Room, SouthernCarolina office, 1750 Jackson St., Barnwell, S.C.
  • PARKING: Guests are encouraged to park in the lot behind the building at 54 Irving St., Barnwell

Colleton County Town Hall meeting

  • WHEN: 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., July 15, 2015 (doors open at 7:30 a.m.)
  • WHERE: Main Classroom Building, Room 111, USC Salkehatchie, 807 Hampton St., Walterboro
  • PARKING: Large parking lot outside of the building

Hampton County Town Hall meeting

  • WHEN: 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., July 15, 2015 (doors open at 4 p.m.)
  • WHERE: Market Square, 45 W. Carolina Avenue, Varnville, SC
  • PARKING: Outside of the building

Jasper County Town Hall meeting

  • WHEN: 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., July 16, 2015 (doors open at 7:30 a.m.)
  • WHERE: Jasper County Council chambers, Jasper County Government Building, 358 Third St., Ridgeland, SC
  • PARKING: Outside of the building

For more information, contact the Center at: brack@bettersouth.org.