Sustain SC Launches to Connect Commerce and Conservation

Economic Development Driven Organization Will Convene Stakeholders Around Sustainability

The Board of Directors of Sustain SC announced the launch today of the organization with a mission to connect the sustainability goals of business in South Carolina with local natural resource solutions for the benefit of our economy, environment, and people. Leadership of Sustain SC includes Ethel Bunch of Columbia and a ten-member board of directors as well as five ex-officio members.

South Carolina is made up of 21 million acres and more than 5 million people live in the state. Forestry and agriculture, worth roughly $40 billion each year, are the state’s number one and number two industries. With people and land converging, it is essential that South Carolina optimize land and water use as the demand on our finite natural resources will take a toll on the economy and the environment.

“We created Sustain SC to bring together unlikely stakeholders including state agencies, conservation groups, forestry, agriculture and industry partners to collaborate on commerce and conservation,” said Rob Howell, Board Chair of Sustain SC and Senior Vice President of Avison Young. “A win for these stakeholders is ultimately a win for all of South Carolina.”

Prior to its launch, Sustain SC honed in on a model of bringing together wide-ranging stakeholders to foster collaboration and facilitate conversations that build consensus at the intersection of business and conservation. The organization seeks to broaden this collaborative model across South Carolina and serve as the convening voice for sustainability in the state. In partnership with the Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities at Furman University, Sustain SC will coordinate the Sustainability Leadership Institute that will graduate 24 fellows a year. Sustain SC will also award the Sustain SC Seal of Sustainability to one project a year to recognize a project that aligns with the organization’s core values and demonstrates a shared vision for the future of South Carolina.

“South Carolina has a successful track record of attracting global companies because of our workforce, our infrastructure and our natural resources. Yet, we are ever mindful of the delicate balance between industry development and environmental responsibility,” said Jennifer Noel Fletcher, Deputy Secretary of Commerce for South Carolina. “With the launch of Sustain SC, we now have a collective voice for sustainability in South Carolina that will drive economic development and support the conservation efforts of companies to take place in the state. Ultimately, Sustain SC will provide a platform to ensure the balanced quality of life that both retains and recruits business.”

The public launch of Sustain SC was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities and matching grant from Google. The organization will focus on four areas of sustainability: carbon neutrality, renewable energy, water quality and quantity, and circular economy.

“Google is proud to be a founding partner of Sustain SC. We recognized early on that Sustain SC’s mission to connect sustainability goals of businesses with local natural resource solutions mirrored our own priorities as a company - ensuring support for both our economy and our environment,” said Lilyn Hester, Google Head of Southeast Public Affairs.

“Sustain SC envisions a future where corporations, public agencies, and non-profits collaborate to conserve forests, waterways, and other natural resources for the benefit of all South Carolinians. This will help ensure sustainable economic growth and the high quality of life that makes this state such a desirable place to live and visit. The Endowment is pleased to partner with Google to help jumpstart Sustain SC’s vision,” said Pete Madden, President of U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities.

About Sustain SC
Sustain SC is an economic development driven organization that sets the table for conversations between businesses and local stakeholders so that Corporate Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) investments stay in South Carolina – benefiting both our economic and natural resource infrastructures. For more information visit


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