Public Input Invited on Survey Designed to Assess Regional Priorities

July 27, 2010 – This week, the Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA) kicks off a nine-month planning initiative that will create a multi-year economic development strategy for the three-county Charleston region (Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties).

The strategy, called Opportunity Next, is meant to guide the regional efforts needed to strengthen the economy, improve wages and fuel job growth in a global economy increasingly defined by knowledge and innovation.

One component of the effort is an online survey that encourages tri-county residents to provide their opinions about life in the Lowcountry. The online survey can be accessed through the project website, www.Opportunity-Next.com. All residents are encouraged to log in and share their thoughts.

The CRDA has retained Avalanche Consulting and McCallum Sweeney Consulting to facilitate the strategic planning process. The two firms have extensive national experience and have conducted similar studies in more than 100 U.S. communities.

To begin the project, Avalanche and McCallum Sweeney are conducting a detailed analysis of the region’s economy, assets and opportunities. The consulting team is on the ground this week to conduct focus groups and interviews with leaders from across the region.

“Citizen participation is critical to the success of Opportunity Next,” said Amy Holloway, president of Avalanche Consulting. “We invite everyone living and working in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties to share their ideas with us through an online survey. The more input we receive, the more tailored the strategy will be.”

“The local landscape has changed quite a bit since our last regional study in 2005, so it’s time to take a fresh look at the region’s competitive position and economic opportunities,” said David Ginn, CRDA president and CEO. “Plus, with the global economy beginning to recover, we need to be sure our regional efforts align with what today’s businesses need to be successful.”

The strategic planning process will be guided by a 48-member advisory board comprising leaders from a diverse range of public sector, private sector, non-profit and educational organizations. Co-chairing the advisory board are Jim Hill, vice president of MWV Community Development Land Management, and Thom Penney, president and CEO of LS3P Associates, Ltd.

The multi-year strategy is being funded by companies directly engaged in advancing Charleston’s regional economy: the South Carolina Power Team, MWV (MeadWestvaco), First Federal and SCANA Corporation.

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About CRDA and the Consulting Team:
Avalanche Consulting is a national economic development consulting firm based in Austin, Texas. The firm specializes in target industry strategies, workforce and economic analysis, and community marketing. Avalanche’s principals have a combined 30+ years of experience and have consulted more than 100 communities across the US and abroad. www.avalancheconsulting.com
McCallum Sweeney Consulting provides site selection and incentive negotiation services to companies worldwide. In addition, MSC leverages its expertise to assist economic development organizations in preparing for the challenges of attracting and retaining capital investment and employment opportunities in today’s competitive climate. www.mccallumsweeneyconsulting.com
The Charleston Regional Development Alliance works in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties to develop a resilient, globally competitive regional economy. The CRDA leads a global marketing effort to retain and attract world-class business and talent, and to facilitate new, high-value business investment within the three-county area. The CRDA also partners with other organizations to drive a sustainable regional development effort. www.charlestoneconomicdevelopment.com.

Media Contacts:

Charleston Regional Development Alliance
Karen Kuchenbecker
Direct: 843.760.4534
Mobile: 843-906-2329

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