When you walk or drive around the Midlands, the evidence of positive growth is undeniable. You see the progress, and you feel the vibrant energy present in all parts of our community. Undoubtedly, it’s a great time for Columbia and for South Carolina.
But when it comes to labor, there is room for improvement. The Southeast has experienced double-digit population growth and positive job growth during the previous five years. Charleston County’s population has grown at 11 percent and jobs at 26.2 percent, with Greenville County reporting 9 percent population growth and 8.3 percent job growth. But Richland County’s population has grown by just 5 percent, and job growth is negative 2.6 percent.
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That lag is the sort of challenge that prompted the Columbia Chamber to bring together 100 of the area’s top business leaders for two days to ask how we can be ready for the future.
That process created a framework for the future, called Forward, Together, which will focus on reducing the cost of doing business. We continue to support transparency and accountability to foster a favorable environment where businesses can flourish. But we are planning for an accelerated pace of change. You can learn more at columbiachamber.com.
We work to orchestrate connections between government, non-profits, military, private sector, education and community. Since our funding is from businesses that choose to invest in us and their community, not taxpayer dollars, we are able to ask the hard questions.
Our region needs the private sector to be engaged and be a part of defining a better path forward in regards to jobs and investment. It is only through sharing a common vision that we will grow in a thoughtful way. There is positive momentum in our region, and it is an inspiring time as we are on the path to transforming our region. To borrow from James Cash Penney, founder of JCPenney: “Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”
Carl W. Blackstone
President & CEO, Columbia Chamber