Owens is chairman of the Eastern SC Alliance, which serves seven counties: Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Marion, Marlboro and Williamsburg. Members of the alliance represent each county and work together to attract business and industry to the southeastern region of South Carolina. Owens said the growing emphasis is to market "regionalism," not just individual counties.
When an industry wants to locate in South Carolina, its first step is to contact the S.C. Department of Commerce. "And it's all about incentive packages," Owens said. "(Industries) ask, 'If I bring jobs to your state, what can you give me in return?'"
The Department of Commerce then directs an industry to the best "region" to suit its needs.
Last year, the Eastern SC Alliance completed its Web site and a $175,000 marketing campaign to promote its seven counties. As part of this campaign, area business leaders were contacted in each county of the alliance and asked questions regarding the quality of life and the existing business environment. "This regional survey gave the alliance the direction needed to prepare materials for meeting and recruiting industrial prospects," Owens said in an annual report to alliance members.
The first industry targeted was the automotive industry. Brochures were sent to top level decision makers and ads were placed in industry publications promoting the counties of the Eastern SC Alliance.
For more information on this story, please read the July 29, 2004 edition of the Cheraw Chronicle/Chesterfield Advertiser.