As the president of the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce, I get a chance to meet a lot of our citizens, talk to a lot of the business owners and connect with many local leaders on a daily basis. Currently, because of COVID-19, most of these communications are virtual in nature. However, they have still proven to be both candid and informative.
What I have been able to determine so far is that the people of Orangeburg are ready for the next evolution of growth. Yes, there have been many accomplishments over the years. But there have also been some “growing pains.” All-in-all, though, Orangeburg has weathered the storm and now stands at a very important crossroad. That crossroad is the intersection of business, government, health, safety, education, economic development and community for the 21st century.
Fortunately, the concept (and entity) known as “One Orangeburg” was created to address this exact situation. One Orangeburg was developed to give voice to and solicit input from stakeholders out of each of the different sectors “meeting at this crossroad.” The Orangeburg County Chamber is working to help develop and implement the best strategy and plan of action that will firmly establish Orangeburg as a leading 21st century center of influence within South Carolina.
We will not let COVID-19 have prolonged, negative effects on Orangeburg. We will, however, continue to support and seek out diversity within industry. We will push for greater collaboration within our cultural communities. We will work with law enforcement to expand opportunities to bridge the gap with citizens. We will support county and municipal governments as they look to better serve their communities and we will expand our efforts within each of the education outlets (public, private and higher learning) to create a perpetual, highly qualified labor force.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his last book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community,” presents the perfect analogy to Orangeburg at this moment in time. We are at the very beginning of the 21st century. There is so much promise yet nothing is guaranteed, and making the best choices will be critical for our prosperity. Let’s be ONE ORANGEBURG and embrace all that we can and should be.
James McQuilla is president of the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce, primary sponsor of "Diversity in Business."