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News Release
Release No. STELPRD4016181
ContactElonzo Kitchings(803) 765-5163
Printable Version  Printable Version

South Carolina, Jan 01, 2012 -- USDA Rural Development, in conjunction with the Clemson Institute for Economic and Community Development, other state and local partners, has released details of an initiative called “Stronger Economies Together” (SET), which is designed to help regional teams develop new approaches to strengthen and enhance regional economic development activities. The SET initiative is an opportunity for current or newly formed multi-county teams to receive the latest tools, training and technical assistance to help their region move forward and take advantage of positive growth and quality of life opportunities. Ten high poverty areas will be targeted to participate in the initiative. The ten persistent poverty counties include Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper Counties in the LowCountry Council of Governments (COG) Region, Allendale, Bamberg, and Orangeburg Counties in the Lower Savannah COG Region, Dillon, Marion, and Marlboro Counties in the Pee Dee COG Region, and Williamsburg in the Waccamaw COG Region.

The SET initiative eligibility requirements are as follows: applicants should be individuals interested in forming an economic and community development team (15-25 members) encompassing a contiguous region of three or more counties in which the at least 51% of the population is rural or 75% of the land area is rural. Applicants are required to fill out an application form that includes commitment letters, brief economic and demographic description of their region, economic challenges that their region is facing, the reasons concerning why their team should participant in SET, and specific training topics that they would find helpful. Most important, team members must be available for 35 hours of training over a one year period, and each applying group must be committed to obtaining “useful outcomes” from the process. For more information, please contact David Hughes (see below).

The successful applicants will receive the following: 1) Valuable intensive strategic planning training for your regional teams, including the newly developed “Stronger Economies Together” program, a program designed to help your regional team develop new approaches to strengthen and enhance regional economic development activities; 2) Database tools specifically designed to help the regional teams examine competitive advantages; 3) Technical assistance and educational support from Clemson Institute for Economic and Community Development, USDA Rural Development staff and other State and local partners; 4) Other educational and information sharing opportunities with other SET program participants around the country.

If you have questions, contact:

Vernita F. Dore, State Director, SC USDA Rural Development, (803) 765-5163,

R. Gregg White, Business and Cooperative Programs Director, SC USDA Rural Development, (803) 765-5881,

Shannon Legree, Business and Cooperative Programs Specialist, SC USDA Rural Development, (803) 253-3150,

David W. Hughes, Professor and Community Development Program Leader, Clemson Institute for Economic and Community Development,, 803-699-3179.

USDA Rural Development administers and manages more than 40 housing, business, and community infrastructure ad facility programs through a network of 5000 employees located in National, State and Local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information on programs offered by USDA Rural Development, contact the South Carolina State Office at (803)765-5163.

The Clemson Institute for Economic and Community is a nationally recognized agent for facilitating change and transformation in the way people think about themselves, their community and the world. We assist communities toward a liveable, prosperous, and sustainable future by enhancing their capacity to control their own destiny.


Committed to the future of rural communities.

“USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.”

To file a complaint of discrimination write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.,

Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).

Last Modified:05/02/2013 
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