There’s an old Chinese proverb that states “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now”.
The same is true for community planning and development. Oconee County has made tremendous strides when it comes to rethinking and reimplementing its economic development policies in the past five years, but it’s time we start doing more because we can’t and shouldn’t wait.
And that is why Destination Oconee is so important for the future of our economic development strategies. The goal of Destination Oconee is to drive initiatives that enhance the economic climate within our county while accelerating efforts to continue to make the area one of the leading tourist destinations in South Carolina.
We can plant now for future generations — for a better Oconee County. Destination Oconee is our road map for the future – it encompasses all geographical areas of the county and touches everyone in the county in one way or another.
Since implementing this endeavor almost two years ago, Destination Oconee has accomplished several key projects. These include the construction of gateway signs; implementing the countywide buy local Think Oconee! Initiative; and providing economic development support to the cities in the county.
The seven members of the Destination Oconee Action Committee focused on several goals to help the county succeed in the future. Those goals are to capitalize on the abundance of our natural resources; to promote the uniqueness of our downtowns; to create a strong “sense of place” and a distinct, cohesive destination and to focus on quality of life as the driving force.
The committee agreed that as the county continues to have economic development successes with business expansions and recruitment, there is a need to put greater emphasis on community development to help attract and retain talent for business while enhancing the quality of life. They felt the county needs to concentrate on public access areas within the county to be able to provide quality amenities and services for residents and visitors alike. The committee felt strongly that Oconee County needs to proactively invest in maintaining its tourism assets.
In an August 2017 Destination Oconee Committee Report to County Council, the committee prioritized the list of key recommendations identified in the Destination Oconee plan and presented possible funding options for County Council to consider. A list of projects related to those recommendations was also included in the report.
As I stated at the beginning, the best time to plan for the future was 20 years ago, the second best time is now. If we make the goals of Destination Oconee a priority, we will create a better Oconee County for future generations to enjoy.
Oconee County’s future is bright and today is the best time to start working toward that future.
Janet Hartman is the Manager of Destination Oconee, an initiative of the Oconee Economic Alliance, which is a public-private nonprofit effort to accelerate job creation and capital investment, increase per capita income, diversify the local tax base and generate awareness of Oconee County as a business location. To learn more visit www.InvestOconeeSC.com.