FLORENCE – Francis Marion University and South Carolina State University today released the results of a human need assessment of the residents of the South Carolina’s I-95 Corridor.
FMU President Luther F. Carter and S.C. State President George E. Cooper were joined by Sen. Hugh K. Leatherman (Florence) and Sen. John W. Matthews (Orangeburg) in unveiling the first detailed and comprehensive analysis of the region.
The report was conducted by a leading nonprofit research organization headquartered in North Carolina, RTI International. Identified in the study are six fundamental needs in the region, recommendations for development strategies and specific projects for federal, state and private investment. Combining interviews with stakeholders and experts with topical area research and best practices, RTI identified the following basic needs:
· Leadership and Local Capacity
· Regional Economic Development
· Tax and Finance
· Healthcare and Social Service Disparities
“FMU will begin working immediately to bring together a cross section of the region’s leadership to address the issues and recommendations contained in this report,” said Carter. “Hopefully, we’ll be successful in developing an implementation plan by early spring.”
In 2007, Carter and SCSU President Andrew Hugine Jr. met with Leatherman and Matthews to explore the possibility of acquiring funding for a comprehensive study of the corridor. The senators supported the request and the 2007 Appropriations Act contained funding sufficient to commission the study.
FMU and SCSU then contracted the services of RTI to work with them in conducting the study and producing a report for the S.C. General Assembly. A six person work group – three from FMU and three from S.C. State, comprised of the academic and research leadership and the business deans – collaborated with the RTI research team, led by Toby Moore and Sara Lawrence. During the initial months, they worked to establish the framework within which this study would be conducted. Then, RTI spent more than a year conducting this assessment. This final study not only surveys the problems facing the I-95 corridor, but also makes recommendations regarding the ways those problems can be addressed. Moore and Lawrence were on hand to present the study’s findings.
The 189-page report lays out the approaches, assumptions, processes, and parameters used by RTI. It offers decision-makers a mechanism to identify options that can better achieve core human development and sustainability goals and better understand the trade-offs in decisions about development and the environment.
The 16 counties included in the study are Dillon, Darlington, Marion, Florence, Lee, Williamsburg, Sumter, Clarendon, Calhoun, Orangeburg, Colleton, Bamberg, Hampton, Beaufort, Jasper and Marlboro.
A team of researchers from RTI visited these communities to interview community and business leaders and gather data on the needs and resources of the region. To ensure public participation, researchers held public meetings and briefings, solicited input through a Web portal, and worked with the universities and community organizations to assess those needs.
For more information about the RTI study, please contact FMU’s Vice President for Public and Community Affairs Darryl Bridges at (843) 661-1332, (firstname.lastname@example.org) or SC State’s Director of University Relations and Marketing Erica Prioleau at (803) 533-3617, (email@example.com).
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