As the summer turns to fall, I am honored to take this opportunity to kick-off a new weekly article titled, “Focus on Laurinburg/Scotland County.” The purpose of this news space will be to communicate to you the ongoing efforts in the community with respect to making Laurinburg/Scotland County a better place to work, live, and play.
Many of the articles will be focused on economic development efforts that are taking place in our community. As a considerable number of these take place, “behind the scenes,” we hope to use this endeavor to pull the curtain back as able. Other articles may deal more with our community and how individuals and groups are improving various areas including recreation, the arts, education, and overall community well-being. In all cases, you will hear from those on the ground, in the community, making things happen: you will hear from business and community leaders, the heads of local education, officials from local organizations and county and city leaders.
In addition to hearing about what is going on in the community, you will also have the opportunity to be further introduced to folks in the city and county that you may not know, but who get up everyday with a keen focus on improving Laurinburg/Scotland County. People like: Mark Ward, Director of the Scotland County Economic Development Corporation; Chris English, Executive Director of the Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce, and Bryan Graham, Director of the Scotland County Parks and Recreation.
These and others join a cadre of community leaders whose work benefits not only their business or institution, but the community as a whole. People such as Paul Baldasare and his leadership team and educators at St. Andrews. Yes, their focus is on growing and enriching their student body, but their efforts also grow and enrich our economy and our community. Leaders such as Greg Wood and his staff at Scotland Health Care System. Yes, their focus is on providing and supporting a healthy community, but their impact provides and supports a healthy economy as well.
So what do these folks and so many others have in common? Besides be smart, high-energy and passionate about their work, they also embrace a shared goal: To make Laurinburg/Scotland County a better place to live. Their area of focus may differ and spread across a range: improve the economic well-being of our community by bringing new businesses and corporations to our community, creating a community that makes companies want to stay here, providing access to training and education that creates a better, more employable workforce, forging a community that provides healthy activities and environment for its members – Many roles, but a single interest: to improve Scotland County.
So every week, we will tell you what is going on. Not from a political standpoint, no politicians are involved, but from leaders and emerging leaders from within the community. You will hear about…
Laurinburg being a “Certified Retirement Community” – Laurinburg was awarded this designation in the middle of last year, yet we are already seeing a return on the investment;
The continued success of Scotland County Schools – few realize the system was recently ranked in the top 10% in Niche Rankings’ Best Public High Schools in North Carolina and whose graduating class is consistently awarded millions in scholarship dollars;
The growth and expansion of St. Andrews which this year welcomed one of its largest classes in recent history. Already an economic engine in our community, St. Andrews will bring even further economic value with the addition of football in the fall of 2017;
The creation of the new Art Park on Main Street, and other efforts to improve the arts in our community including the jazz concert held at SACS on September 24th that will celebrate the great poet Langston Hughes.
The continued expansion of Scotland Health Care System: a 4-star healthcare provider and our community’s largest employer;
The ongoing efforts to improve and refurbish the downtown/Main Street area including the recent grants of almost $900,000 to assist in the effort.
The latest news from Richmond Community College which now offers over 60 college degree, diploma and certificate programs that give students the training to either go to work or further their education;
The ongoing efforts of Mark Ward at the Scotland County Economic Development Corporation – a partnership between Scotland County, the City of Laurinburg and Richmond Community College – with a shared focus on creating jobs; and
The efforts of the Chamber of Commerce as Chris English leads the organization forward.
So over the next year, each Thursday in this space, you will hear from those of us that focus on growing and enhancing Laurinburg/Scotland County. You will hear not just from the leaders and executives, but also those in the trenches making things happen. We will discuss how our entities contribute to the economic well-being of our community, and keep you updated on our efforts. I’m sure you will be proud of the friends and neighbors that you hear from and, perhaps, be further motivated to get involved to help make Laurinburg/Scotland County a better place to work, live and play. We hope it is enlightening. At the least, like myself, I think you will be humbled by those in the community that take great pride in, and provide great effort towards, improving the economic health and growth of our community.
Cory Huges serves as executive director of the Scotland County Tourism Development Authority