By Justin Lee Campbell and originally appearing at www.upstatetoday.com.
The Oconee Economic Alliance board of directors has selected architect and award-winning visual artist Christine Tedesco for a two-year term as chair.
The board voted recently for Tedesco by unanimous acclamation during a meeting at Blue Ridge Bank in Seneca.
Tedesco told The Journal she was honored by the board’s decision and believes the chairmanship offers “a great opportunity” to meet more Oconee County residents.
“I’m fascinated by this group and what they’ve done in the last five years,” said Tedesco, whose term runs until January 2019. “I think they’ve done a great job, and I think they’ll continue to do a great a job.”
Tedesco founded RSCT Architecture and Design in 1999 after earning master’s and bachelor’s degrees in architecture from Clemson University, according to rsctarchdesign.com. Tedesco also holds a bachelor’s in building science management and is a former winner of the Henry Adams Medal, the highest recognition granted to a graduate architecture student by the American Institute of Architects.
OEA executive director Richard Blackwell oversaw the meeting. Blackwell told The Journal that he expects Tedesco to challenge the alliance.
“I think any expectation with the new chair or new board is just to continue to challenge us as the economic development team, think outside the box on what we can do differently, generate awareness on … what the county has to offer and strive for new heights,” Blackwell said after the meeting.
Blackwell believes the OEA has accomplished a lot during his tenure, but added the alliance isn’t satisfied. Blackwell wants the executive committee to increase awareness about Oconee County’s potential for residents and businesses and focus on jobs and industrial parks.
“We want to get these industrial parks filled up as quickly as possible,” Blackwell said. “That may take a month, or that may take six years, but we’re going to focus on that.”
For Blackwell, the OEA has more work to be do.
“Our motivation every single day is to continue to strive for greater economic prosperity in the county,” Blackwell added.
Tedesco said OEA does a good job of attracting industry to Oconee County but could make housing more affordable.
“The biggest challenge is the gap in housing that is available for people coming into the county,” Tedesco said, adding that people who can’t afford lakefront properties could still be able to afford properties worth more than $200,000. “You’ve got to have other support services for people that are coming in that just aren’t here yet. I think that’s a wonderful challenge in a beautiful part of the state.”
The election of Tedesco comes after Robert Halfacre vacated the position in 2016 to work at another bank, according to Blackwell. Tedesco will take over as chairman at the next board meeting on March 10.
Oconee Economic Alliance The Oconee Economic Alliance 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, South Carolina as a business location. To learn more, please visit www.InvestOconeeSC.com.