ROCK HILL, S.C. - A diverse group of 16 area citizens will come together Feb. 4 to begin developing a “College Town Action Plan” that supporters say can be an economic development boon to the community and a value-added attraction for prospective Winthrop University students.
Members of the group, chosen jointly by Rock Hill City Manager Carey Smith and Winthrop University President Anthony DiGiorgio, include individuals drawn from Rock Hill’s business and financial community, real estate and development community, the campus neighborhood, Winthrop student leadership, the faith community, sports tourism advocates, and other related perspectives. The group is empowered to reach beyond their membership to invite input from various stakeholder groups and the general public over the next 18-22 weeks, which is the anticipated timeframe for producing the action plan.
The local group will work with a team of nationally recognized consultants with expertise in such initiatives, with funding for that shared by the city of Rock Hill, Rock Hill Economic Development Corporation and Winthrop.
“This endeavor seeks to integrate Winthrop University and Old Town Rock Hill into a thriving, dynamic area that attracts economic development and jobs to Rock Hill," City Manager Carey Smith said in a release announcing the working group membership.
“Citizens of Rock Hill continually tell us how much they appreciate all that Winthrop brings to the community,” President Anthony DiGiorgio added, “but they also repeatedly have identified the condition of some of the areas around the campus as being of great concern to them. Prospective students and their parents say the same thing – they love the Winthrop campus, but wish there was a more vibrant ‘college town’ environment around it.”
New business starts in areas close to Winthrop have had mixed success over the years, and current economic conditions make stand-alone start-ups even more difficult. Those familiar with the initiative say a more “holistic” approach might offer better opportunities for success for individual businesses and thus the “college town” area overall.
Mayor Doug Echols said he believes that makes the current timeframe ideal for an intensive “360-degree look” at the area around Winthrop, so that “we can bring national expertise together with local perspectives and do what Rock Hill and Winthrop have always done – work together for the benefit of both. We are excited to proactively develop an action plan that moves everyone in the same direction.”
On Feb. 4, members of the working group and local support staff will have a “get-acquainted” organizational session and dinner at Winthrop, with their first working meeting with the national consultants tentatively planned for Feb. 18.
Members of the Working Group that will guide preparation of the College Town Action Plan are:
• Larry Bigham, CEO, B&G, Inc.
• Edwina Roseboro-Barnes, Director of Human Resources, York Technical College
• Butch Brindel, CEO, Piedmont Regional Association of Realtors
• Bennish Brown, Executive Director, Convention and Visitors Bureau
• Jeff Bushardt, Vice President of Human Resources, Comporium, Inc.
• Tom Camp, President, S.C. Bank and Trust
• Beverly Carroll, attorney, K&L Gates
• Andrew Cope, Vice President, J.M. Cope Construction Co.
• Chrissy Catoe, Vice President for Marketing, Family Trust Federal Credit Union
• Claudia Douglass, Chief Operating Officer, Piedmont Medical Center
• Sydney Evans, Chair, Winthrop Council of Student Leaders
• Brad Hastings, Managing Partner, Walk2Campus Properties, LLC
• Manning Kimmel, Co-Owner/Managing Partner, My Three Sons Broadcasting
• Terry Plumb, Media Relations Specialist, Charlotte Regional Census Center
• The Rev. Larry Robertson, Mount Hebron Baptist Church
• Brian Tuttle, The Tuttle Company.