FLORENCE – Francis Marion University President Luther F. Carter today announced the creation of an Advisory Committee to address the issues and recommendations identified in the I-95 Corridor Study released in December.
Tapped to head efforts on behalf of FMU is Emerson Gower, the recently retired regional vice president for Progress Energy. Carter said Gower has joined the FMU staff as an Executive in Residence and will work to address the needs of the northern portion of the I-95 Corridor. He will head the group, which will work to prioritize these needs and develop an implementation plan.
“The university is uniquely positioned to respond to opportunities and challenges associated with the corridor,” said Carter. “The men and women serving on the committee will play an integral role in creating a strategy for development.”
This comes in response to the findings of the I-95 Corridor study released in December by FMU and S.C. State University that not only encapsulates the problems which have long been linked to this section of the region but also provides recommendations for attending to those issues. The report was conducted by a leading nonprofit research organization headquartered in North Carolina, Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International.
The needs and recommendations as outlined in the study relating to the 17 counties with nearly one million residents, stretching from North Carolina to Georgia are: leadership and local capacity; regional economic development; education; infrastructure; tax and finance; and healthcare and social service disparities.
The counties that the FMU I-95 Advisory Committee will address include Clarendon, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Lee, Marion, Marlboro, Sumter and Williamsburg. SCSU will direct its efforts to the southern portion of the corridor.
I-95 North Advisory Board members and brief bios are listed below:
Larry Atkinson is president of Atkinson Construction Company Inc. A longtime employee of the company originally named Eskridge, Long & Associates, Atkinson changed the name in 2005.
Gloria Bell is the staff vice president for internal audit at Sonoco in Hartsville. Bell joined Sonoco in 1978; prior to her current position, she was director of internal audit. She is a certified public accountant.
Darryl Bridges is vice president for public and community affairs at FMU. Bridges has served in various capacities since coming to FMU in 1997; most recently he served as vice president of student affairs.
Trisha C. Caulder is the former director of the SC Dept. of Education’s Regional Adult Education Technical Assistance Center and Florence School District’s Adult/Community Education Program.
Steve Creech is president of Creech, Roddey, Watson Insurance (Property & Casualty). He is the former mayor of the city of Sumter.
Emerson Gower is an executive in residence at FMU. Gower, who had been with Progress Energy and its predecessor, Carolina Power & Light, for 38 years and served as vice president of the Southern Region since 1993, retired in 2009.
O’Neal Hamilton is public service commissioner of South Carolina’s Fifth Congressional District. Hamilton retired in 2001 from his job as an agency manager for Farm Bureau.
John Harlow is assistant vice president for business development and community relations. Harlow retired from Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department as a homicide lieutenant.
Carl Humphries is chief executive officer of HopeHealth in Florence. HopeHealth’s mission is to increase access to comprehensive primary and preventive healthcare and to improve the health status of underserved and vulnerable populations in the community.
Floyd Keels is president and chief executive officer for Santee Electric Cooperative Inc., with headquarters in Kingstree. Prior to moving to SEC in Kingstree, he was an employee with Carolina Power & Light Company for 25 years.
Jeff McKay is executive director of the North Eastern Strategic Alliance. From 1992 until his appointment to NESA in 2005, McKay was executive director of the Greater Statesville Development Corp., located in the Greater Charlotte Metro Area.
Dale Player has been owner and operator of Dale Player and Sons Farm for more than 40 years. He was director of the AgFirst Farm Credit Bank Board where he served for more than 30 years. He also serves as a delegate to the National Cotton Council and alternate director to the National Cotton Board.
Rick Reames is the executive director of the Pee Dee Education Center. He served in various capacities in Florence School District One including deputy superintendent for the 33 years prior to his most recent appointment in 2005.
Marvin Stevenson is the SC Department of Transportation Commissioner for the Sixth Congressional District. He has been the attendance supervisor of Marion County Schools since 1985. He served as chairman of the Marion County Council for nearly 15 years.
George Summers is a retired colonel and a past president of both the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber Board of Directors.
Ken Trogdon is the chief executive officer of Welvista, an innovative non-profit healthcare network serving the working uninsured. Welvista provides more than 200 donated brand name prescription medications to patients who qualify for the program.
Moot Truluck is the former SCDOT commissioner of the Sixth Congressional District and former director of the tobacco division of the Farm Service Agency. He served as a member of the City Council of Lake City and was mayor pro-tem.
Jenny Williamson is the executive director of the Pee Dee Land Trust. She has worked throughout the United States in various aspects of land use.
Jimmie Williamson retired from the SC Technical College System in December 2007 to serve as Agape’s regional president for the Pee Dee and Grand Strand. Agape Senior is a faith-based, senior adult health care service provider. He has more than 28 years in higher education, serving as president of two technical colleges.
Frank Willis was the mayor of Florence for nearly 15 years and Chairman and CEO of Willis Construction for nearly four decades. He is now president of Willis Consulting Company. He has chaired the Florence County Economic Development Commission and Florence County Progress.
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