S.C. Department of Commerce hosts 29th Annual South Carolina Rural Summit

State honors individuals for leadership in rural economic development

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The S.C. Department of Commerce gathered leaders from across the state on Monday, March 4 and Tuesday, March 5 for the 2019 South Carolina Rural Summit. Held in Orangeburg, S.C., this year's event featured leadership development sessions, opportunities to share best practices between community leaders, an awards ceremony and presentations from a variety of speakers, including Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt and renowned entrepreneur John Hope Bryant.

Now in its 29th year, the Rural Summit provides community leaders, economic developers and state officials the opportunity to come together and learn about innovative methods to improve rural South Carolina. Additionally, the summit serves as a venue to honor individuals for work they've done to advance their respective communities.

"All communities throughout our state possess a unique charm and remarkable appeal, making each and every one of them wonderful locations to live, work and play," said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt. "Through collaboration with local leadership and a true, team-first approach, we can help advance all of our communities, ensuring prosperity for South Carolinians in every corner of the state."

The 2019 Rural Longevity Award was presented to Collum's Lumber Products, a family-owned and operated sawmill and planing operation, located in Allendale County since the mid-1930s. Employing more than 245 associates, the company is one of the largest employers in Allendale County and has grown to be a leading competitor in the Southern yellow pine lumber market.

Innovative Poultry Products received the 2019 Outreach Enrichment Award for the most effective use of S.C. Commerce outreach services that resulted in new business opportunities and company growth. By utilizing the state's Export Incentives Program, Innovative Poultry Products now serves the Canadian market for the first time in the company's history. The company participated in S.C. Commerce's trade mission to Panama and is currently in negotiations to export to that country.

As the recipient of the 2019 Rural Leadership Award, Dr. Ann Carmichael was recognized for her effectiveness as an academic leader in rural South Carolina. Dr. Carmichael served for 18 years as dean of the University of South Carolina (USC)-Salkehatchie Allendale campus and nine years as director of the USC-Salkehatchie Walterboro campus.

The 2019 Rural Summit Scholastic Achievement Award was presented to Bryanna Williams of Williamsburg County's Hemingway High School. The award recognized Williams not only for her academic achievements but also for service to her community and school. She received a $5,000 scholarship.

For photos of this year's event, including the awards ceremony, please visit the S.C. Commerce flickr page.

About S.C. Department of Commerce
As South Carolina's leading economic development agency, the Department of Commerce works to recruit new businesses and help existing business grow. S.C. Commerce has recruited world-class companies to South Carolina such as BMW, Boeing, Continental, Giti Tire, LPL Financial Holdings, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Samsung, Toray and Volvo Cars and also supports startups, small and existing business, innovation and rural development initiatives. S.C. Commerce partners with the S.C. Technical College System via readySC to support workforce training and recruiting, and with the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, which provides worker training and employment opportunities within the state. With a strong international footprint, the Palmetto State ranked No. 1 in the nation for attracting jobs through foreign investment on a per capita basis in 2018 -- extending its streak of top three finishes since 2011. Additionally, in five of seven years, the state has won the Gold Shovel Award from Area Development magazine; and, in 2017, the state was recognized as Business Facilities' State of the Year. For more information, visit www.SCcommerce.com.

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