Getting a seat at the grownup table

South Carolina is a little like a holiday family dinner: The adults sit at the massive dining-room table, and the children are relegated to the dreaded “kids’ table.” While the adults have all the turkey and ham and fixings, the kids get only what the adults give them.

Now consider Palmetto State economic development through that metaphoric lens. You can look at a state map to see who gets to sit at the grownup table: Charleston, Columbia and Greenville. And too often, that’s the impression that businesses have of South Carolina: If you’re not in one of the three largest cities, you won’t have a seat at the grownup table.

It’s our job to right that perception and show business leaders from around the world that Oconee County shatters the metaphor, not by clamoring to be considered worthy of the grownup table, but by showcasing our unique benefits that can’t be had from S.C.’s Big Three.

One of the primary advantages the Oconee Economic Alliance brings to the table is a cohesive focus on the county’s strengths. That’s our history. “Alliance” refers to the joining of four entities that, under one roof, bring a wealth of resources to bear on the accomplishment of a common goal, to drive sustainable economic development that will create long-term prosperity for those who call our region home.

But if you want a seat with the grownups, you better be worthy. In our case, that’s meant investing in projects to create the value that prospective investors expect. We’ve worked hard to ensure that each of our three county-owned industrial parks – the Oconee Industry and Technology Park, the Golden Corner Commerce Park, and the Seneca Rail Park – is a business-ready value suited to individual sets of priorities. While each of these parks offers different amenities, one of the benefits they all share is access to major transportation arteries, without the traffic that ensnarls the Palmetto State’s big three cities.

Finally, all of this means little if no one knows about it, and that’s one of our chief goals at the Alliance: to spread the news globally about our corner of South Carolina, and the value of doing business here. We use a variety of strategies to let businesses know that Oconee County is ready to be their seat at the grownup table; ready with facilities, ready with a large, well-trained and eager workforce, and ready with easy access to major transportation infrastructure.

These are only three of the reasons more and more businesses are choosing to call Oconee County home, but the overarching reason is these businesses understand that when they pick Oconee, they are claiming a seat at the grownup table: their seat.

About the Author:

Richard K. Blackwell is the executive director of 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

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