New Director Outlines Economic Development Plan

In his first day in his new position, Dillon County Economic Developer Tonny McNeil clearly laid out his plan for economic development in Dillon County.
“You have to have a plan,” said McNeil, who hopes his plan will help bring growth to Dillon County.
One thing McNeil will work on from the beginning is priorities and preparation.  He said a great deal of work must be done to prepare the county for economic development activity and that before we celebrate a major announcement, we must prepare.  “Economic development is not a quick fix,” said McNeil, who said it will require planning, prioritizing, and patience.
McNeil said he will be working with the local team, the S.C. Department of Commerce, and NESA (North Eastern Strategic Alliance) to prioritize the needs and begin to address them.
Job creation is another important item that McNeil will be working on.  He said he will be working closely with the schools, Northeastern Technical College, the One Stop of Dillon County and the Workforce Investment Act office to help prepare the work force for future job opportunities.  “We need to prepare our workforce,” said McNeil, who said that we must deliver a skilled workforce if we want to attract jobs.  He said we must make sure job seekers have completed work keys assessments and have CRCs (Career Readiness Certificates).  The CRCs will be classified into difference skill levels.
McNeil will work for the creation of higher paying and higher skilled jobs so improving workforce readiness is key.
McNeil said Dillon County has a competitive education system. He said many local graduates are successful in their careers, and he is an example of this.  In years to come, he hopes to attract jobs that will help these graduates stay in Dillon  County.  McNeil said we must look for ways to share  and celebrate our educational successes. When the new J.V. Martin middle school is completed, McNeil said he will have an advantage that no other developer has had before and that is the ability promote our new educational facilities and their successes.
Community development is also a major part of the plan.  This includes things such as healthcare and revitalization efforts.  He said in terms of downtown development, it is important to have creative ways to develop small business.  He said Dillon is a prime location for tourism development and ways need to be developed to get tourists to drive to Dillon.
Product development is another key part of the plan.   McNeil said the development of  the I-95 Gateway Park and the new industrial park in Latta are essential.
McNeil said all available buildings must be attractive and clean and ready for that unexpected visit from a prospect.
He also feels that in order to be successful all leadership groups must be on the same page with a common cause and mission working in a unified direction.
Communication and organization are the final components to McNeil’s plan.  He said they must have  a plan of work with measurable objectives.  This will be clearly communicated to all team members, both public and private, and the public will also be updated.
McNeil said he is committed to finding industry.  He is well-organized and hardworking and will be committed to the business of Dillon County and getting results.  He believes teamwork and transparency will be key to this mission.
He welcomes suggestions and input from the public and plans regular updates to The Dillon Herald.

Note: For more on Tonny McNeil, see the Tuesday, May 18th issue or visit www.thedillonherald.com.