Campbell Urges Support For Economic Stimulus Package Before County Council

Kwadjo Campbell

By Barney Blakeney

Economic development characterizes the metropolitan Charleston community and companies locating to the area are funding initiatives that train and prepare workers.

Black communities must engage them more. Towards that end, business consultants JC & Associates have proposed to Charleston County Council a 10-year, $41 million economic stimulus package principle partner Kwadjo Campbell says will impact job training, affordable housing, African American tourism, revolving loans and community education.

But the effort needs support from the community to encourage council’s backing, he said.

JC & Associates presented the proposal to county council’s Finance Committee April 20. And while Campbell said he’s cautiously optimistic the full council will support the proposal, vehement support from the community could make that happen. The consultants hosted their first open house to discuss the proposal in January. Before presenting the proposal to the finance committee, JC & Associates hosted a second open house at 60 America Street in downtown Charleston to present the proposal to the community.

In an earlier letter to community partners Campbell said, “Here is something we all can get behind – having our tax dollars reinvested back into our community. At our first open house we had a great discussion on economic development in the Black community. We were able to get invaluable input concerning the policy going before County Council.”

As part of the continued effort, citizens were asked to sign on to a letter to council members that in part read, “If funded, this economic investment will open the door to economic opportunity to hundreds of persons and businesses who otherwise have no such access. And while this investment can change the lives of people and improve the quality of life within these underserved communities, it also helps Charleston County as this investment of $41.3 million will have a return many times over in economic impact in terms of created jobs, businesses, trained workforce, affordable, and workforce housing.”

The proposal offers as an example of that return, “The African-American Tourism portion of this stimulus is projected to return to the county $50,000,000 with a five percent increase in visitors, according to the African American Tourism Economic Impact Study conducted by the University of South Carolina … The Economic Stimulus Plan will make resources available such as cultural & tourist related activity grants, business loans, affordable housing financing, and job training funding.”

This economic development policy proposal represents a plan for underserved, blighted communities in Charleston County that will spur job creation, business development, and workforce development. Campbell says the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Government predicts limited job growth in such areas (approximately 200 jobs) over the next decade. The Economic Stimulus Plan addresses that dismal outlook and is comprehensive in that it addresses 1) Job Training & Community Development Education, 2) Affordable Housing Development, 3) Revolving Loan for Business Development, 4) African-American Tourism Product Development and Promotion and 5) Infrastructure.

Residents have to show up in support of the proposal, he says. Despite a dropout rate in underserved communities in Charleston County of 60 percent – some 30 percent higher than the national average – highly unskilled labor force within population, a murder rate in North Charleston higher than state and national rates, incarceration rates in North Charleston and Charleston County higher than the state and national rates, those forces with the power to change conditions have ignored and neglected the problem for so long the problems have become exacerbated to the point where we must move with a sense of extreme urgency, Campbell said. As statistics show, we are in a state of crisis and emergency, he said.

Campbell urges all citizens to contact their county council representatives encouraging them to support the proposal. A view of the proposed economic stimulus package can be viewed online at jc-associates.com.

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