A Future Built on Innovation and Opportunity
Introduction:

In Oconee County, a narrative of transformation is unfolding. As your Council Chairman, I am spearheading an initiative to redefine our local economy. Once a thriving hub of textile manufacturing, our county experienced significant deindustrialization when these plants moved out. Today, we stand committed to reversing this trend by bringing back industry, but with a focus on innovation and high-paying jobs.

The Decline of Textiles:

Our county’s history is deeply intertwined with the textile industry. These plants were not just workplaces; they were the lifeblood of our community, providing livelihoods and shaping our cultural identity. However, their closure left a void in our local economy, leading to higher poverty rates among students and lower workforce participation.

Current Landscape:

Our county, known for its scenic beauty and appeal to retirees, has long prioritized tourism and retirement living. However, this approach has overlooked the pressing needs of our residents, particularly our youth. With 64.9% of our students living in poverty and a workforce participation rate of just 57%, the need for change is undeniable. Although our county’s population has doubled over the last 40 years, our student population has remained at about 10,000. This is a clear indicator that our youth are seeking futures elsewhere. As the Council Chairman, my mission is to reverse this trend by focusing on creating high-quality, well-paying jobs and investing in future-proof infrastructure.

Refocusing Priorities:

It’s time to pivot from our past focus on creating a retirement and tourist destination. We must now channel our efforts into reindustrializing our county, attracting industries that resonate with the 21st-century economy. 

Key Initiatives:

  • Reviving Industrial Growth: We’re bringing industry back to Oconee County. Our goal is to attract modern manufacturing and high-tech industries, offering jobs that pay $40-$60 per hour. 
  • The Sewer South Project: By delivering sewer to the I-85 corridor this essential infrastructure upgrade is a stepping stone towards industrial development, ensuring that new industries have the resources they need to thrive.
  • High-Speed Internet Expansion: In today’s digital era, this is more than a utility; it’s an economic lifeline. Our investment in high-speed internet lays the foundation for tech-based industries and remote work opportunities.

Building a Sustainable Future:

Our vision extends beyond merely replacing the jobs we lost. It’s about creating a diversified, resilient economy where innovation and high-wage employment are the norms. This approach not only provides our residents with better job opportunities but also ensures that our youth have compelling reasons to build their futures here, in Oconee County.

Conclusion:

As Oconee County Council Chairman, I am deeply committed to this journey of economic revitalization. We are not just reminiscing about our industrial past; we are actively crafting a future where industry, innovation, and community prosperity go hand in hand. Together, we will build a county that honors its history by embracing a future filled with opportunity and growth.