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Written by Jerry E. Halmon   

In an effort to give area residents a working knowledge of some of the numerous programs that come under its umbrella, the staff of the Lower Savannah Council of Governments (LSCOG) brought their “Road Show” to the Bamberg Job Corps Center Thursday, in the form of an informational meeting and luncheon.

“We need to let people know that we are here,” said Connie Shade, executive director of the agency that provides numerous services to the citizens of Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun and Orangeburg Counties. “We want to work hand-in-hand with you. We want to get our name out there,” Shade said, adding that “anything that effects growth and economic development is what we are about.”

It was noted in the presentation that the LSCOG, that was established in 1967, by then Governor Robert E. McNair, receives 75 cents per capita based on Census 2000 population counts from each member county which amounted to $225,000 in 2011.

These funds are used as matching dollars for operational costs of the LSCOG and direct service activities. Over the last 42 years, the six counties have contributed $5,123,004 and received in return $432, 871,747 in Grants, for a return on investment of $84 for every dollar invested.

In giving an overview of some of the services provided to local municipalities, Jennifer Tinsley, who heads the Planning/Community Development/Economic Development and Tourism division of at the LSCOG, noted that there is “a lot going on in Bamberg County.”

Tinsley noted that in the city of Denmark, several projects are in the planning phase including the Denmark Downtown Revitalization Program and the Highway 78 lane widening project east of Denmark, which it was noted residents “should be able to see some work being done” starting in the fall of this year. “The city of Denmark is excited and we’re really excited,” Tinsley said of the projects in Denmark.

She reported the widening of Highway 78 shoulders to six feet between Bamberg and Denmark is being planned and a bicycle and pedestrian trail study is being done in the rural area of the county.

In the city of Bamberg, plans are underway to make improvements to the intersection of Calhoun Street and Highway 78 (Heritage Highway) in front of the Piggly Wiggly. “Water, sewer and rail” are keys to economic development along with “jobs and capital investment,” Tinsley said, adding that LSCOG, works closely with South Carolina Alliance, which is the designated regional economic development agency in the county. In the area of tourism it was noted that in the years 2010-2011 accommodation taxes collected through the Thoroughbred Country amounted to $434,296 for the four county area. Nora Sanders reported the newly formed Regional Housing Consortium will be providing affordable housing in the region and received $1.6 million in funding in 2011.

Sam Jordan, who heads the LSCOG Workforce Development Program, which was described as the agency’s “largest program” noted that governmental funding often is dependent on who wins in an election year, but he “feels there will be workforce development no matter who wins” the election later this year. Jordan noted that Workforce Development Program is “built around” workforce centers of which one is located in Bamberg County on the campus of Voorhees College in Denmark.

The Workforce Development Program handles: Unemployment Claims, (once per week), the Youth Program, that serves (only out of school youth ages 17-21) and the Dislocated Workers Program just to name a few. From July 1, 2010 to June 30,2011, 214 people were enrolled in the Workforce Development Program in Bamberg County and in fiscal year 2011 funding in the county approached $100,000.

 
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