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Economic development: Group looks for green to fund Green Coast program

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

The Alliance for Economic Development for Georgetown County is beginning to see progress in its efforts to turn the Hammock Coast into the Green Coast, but it needs to get more people involved to see real results.

“The initiative is coming together better now. I think we’re all getting a better feel for how to actually make something happen rather than just talking about it,” said Tim Tilley, the alliance chairman.

“We just need a lot more memberships from actual business people in the community who want to commit some dollars and time. I think there’s a lot that can be done, but it takes commitment.”

The alliance debuted a plan about 18 months ago to bring new jobs and income to the area through an effort to turn the county into a hub for environmentally friendly business by actively courting green companies and making the area an appealing place for them to locate facilities.

“It certainly takes time, but their efforts have allowed us to focus in on certain types of companies and they’ve done a great job helping position us to get those companies here when the economy recovers,” said Wayne Gregory, the county economic development director.

Since the launch of the Green Coast branding campaign, every business the county has been in talks with has been environmentally friendly and “we’ve been extremely close on several projects,” Gregory said.

“The economic situation has slowed us down on announcements, but we have several companies considering Georgetown County as a location.”

Alliance members will attend a wind energy conference in Baltimore next month in hope of getting that industry interested in the county.

“We’re setting up direct contacts to have private, individual meetings with wind energy folks at that event,” Tilley said.

County Council passed a resolution earlier this year in support of exploration of economic benefits and other opportunities associated with the production of wind energy.

They planned a public campaign to spread the word that the county is interested in being a home to wind energy operations and hopefully put the county in the running with other areas trying to attract wind industry businesses.

To help boost community involvement, the alliance created a new membership brochure.

The final draft was just reviewed and the brochure should be out soon.

The group has also done some restructuring, creating subcommittees, including one dedicated to membership. It is headed by Steve Strickland.

For information about membership, call 344-2470 or visit georgetownalliance.com.

Another recent change in the alliance is an increased focus on the Georgetown port.

“We’ve been trying to integrate them into more of our communications,” Tilley said. “We’ve been speaking with folks involving the ports a lot more lately. Potentially, we’re seeing some things there that are positive.”

Tilley will chair a Georgetown County Port Dredging Task Force created by the county’s legislative delegation to promote a federal-state funding plan. The task force will meet for the first time Sept. 27.

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