Dorchester County Develops First Strategic Plan for Economic Development

Summerville, South Carolina

April 6, 2012 - On April 5, 2012, Dorchester County Economic Development held a public event to outline key recommendations from its recently developed Strategic Plan. Members of Dorchester County Council along with other elected officials and various community leaders came together on Thursday evening to weigh the findings uncovered during this comprehensive, six-month study.

Sanford Holshouser Consulting, the leading economic development consulting firm in the Southeast, was selected to develop Dorchester County's first Strategic Plan to help guide the County's Economic Development efforts over the next five years. On behalf of Sanford Holshouser, Managing Partners Crystal Morphis and Rocky Lane gave a brief presentation of this intensive analysis that included a review of product development, economic and demographic trends, as well as a target industry update that was developed in conjunction with Applied Marketing.

"During this planning process, we were pleased to see the outpour of interest and involvement from leaders throughout the community that included representatives ranging from industry to education," said Dorchester County Economic Development Board Chairman George Tupper. "Their input was an invaluable contribution in helping to produce this plan that will serve as the County’s blueprint for economic success, and for that we are very grateful."   

Chairman Larry Hargett of Dorchester County Council added, "As Dorchester County continues to grow, it is equally important to identify both the County's strengths and challenges in order to plan ahead for the future. The County is excited to begin first steps to put this plan into motion. It is our goal to continue to work closely with the community to form new initiatives that will jumpstart the economy."

The Strategic Plan also identified the County's key strengths and weaknesses, coupled with prime opportunities and potential threats. Most exciting during the presentation was the announcement of the County's key target markets identified for future economic and workforce development initiatives. The firm revealed Automotive, BioScience, and Aviation and Aerospace as primary targets, with the Marine and Distribution sectors as secondary targets.

"The Strategic Plan focuses on the two most important strategies for Dorchester County's economic development program: infrastructure and workforce development," said Crystal Morphis, a Managing Partner for Sanford Holshouser Economic Development Consulting. "Today, companies are looking for shovel-ready sites and a skilled workforce. By focusing on these foundational building blocks, Dorchester County can improve its competitive position and attract good paying jobs and diversify the economy."

The steering committee responsible for guiding this endeavor consisted of a seven-member board from both the public and private sector. The team worked closely with Sanford Holshouser to gather input from County Council members, mayors, chamber of commerce representatives, school districts, and Economic Development staff members through multiple input sessions and a variety of online surveys. 

"This plan brought to light many things that Dorchester County is already doing right, as well as things that need improvement," said Dorchester County Economic Development Director Jon Baggett. "The development of this Strategic Plan is a positive step forward for Economic Development that will accelerate job creation and boost retention efforts. All-in-all, this was a well-guided process under expert direction by Sanford Holshouser. I would also like to thank the South Carolina Power Team for helping to make this a reality."

A copy of the executive summary of the Strategic Plan was distributed during Thursday's presentation. The full report is available on the Dorchester County Economic Development website at www.dorchesterforbusiness.com. The Strategic Plan was funded equally by both Dorchester County and the South Carolina Power Team. 

About Dorchester County Economic Development

Dorchester County Economic Development is the organization responsible for growing and retaining business in the County. Its mission is to work to create and support an environment that welcomes business, and helps companies to grow and succeed over the long-term. This ultimately will increase the standard of living for all of Dorchester County's citizens by providing more job opportunities with higher skills and better wages.