Dillon County Administrator Tony Clyburn spoke about his vision for Dillon County at the Dillon County Chamber of Commerce banquet.
He asked the question, “Are we just pilgrims or are we bridge builders?”
Clyburn said he chose Dillon County because he felt this was a place that had “some of the greatest room for growth and overall improvement in this state.”
“I wanted to go to a place where I could be a part of something big…a place where I could truly make a difference and contribute to something transformational…a place where I could help build some much-needed bridges,” Clyburn said.
“So how do we build bridges in a community like Dillon County?,” Clyburn asked.
“It takes good government working together with industry and commerce,” he said, stressing that he had said good—not big, overpowering, overreaching, overbearing, or restrictive government.
He then shared his vision of what “good, effective government” should look like on all levels.
“For a government to be effective, it has to have the trust and participation of the people, but that must be earned by implementing some core principles.”
He then reviewed his “Five Facets of Effective Governance,” which he said are the five principles he feels should guide every decision they make as government officials.
The five principles are:
—1) FAIRNESS: He said when considering the decisions and actions that affect citizens the question should be asked, “Is This Fair?”
—2) ACCOUNTABILITY: “For any organization, public or private, to be effective, there must be accountability…And with accountability, there often comes consequences. Having the courage to assess consequences, the patience to offer encouragement, and the understanding to know when to apply which—is a a key component of accountability.”
—3) COMMUNICATION: “Effective governance requires good communication. It’s that simple,’ said Cyburn. “The people just want to know what’s going on.” He stressed the importance of communicating effectively and honestly even when bad things happen. “When these things take place, most of the time, the open and honest explanation of what happened is often not nearly s bad as the rumors that were circulating about it. And as a matter of fact, I really believe that this has been the case here in Dillon County. If we communicate properly, we leave little room for the naysayers to use rumors to pit the people against the government, and that’s why I think communication is currently one of the most important facets of this government.”
4) EFFICIENCY: “Efficiency is paramount,” said Clyburn, who said this was something they always shave to work towards.
5) TRANSPARENCY: “Transparency is the backbone of trust,” said Clyburn. “Without it, people will always believe the worst.”
Clyburn said as long as he is the Dillon County Administrator, he will always act according to these principles. “As long as I am here, we are going to be bridge builders.”
He then explained how he planned to accomplish this and reviewed his primary objectives.
The first is community outreach and development. He said he feels strongly about this. “While everyone wants to talk about economic development in terms of providing infrastructure, incentives, and tax breaks, the fact remains these companies are run by people,” said Clyburn. “These people care about the communities they will be involved in. They care about where they will be locating their families and their children.”
What do we have to do, Clyburn asked.
He said the first thing that we have to clean the place up. “There is no reason for Dillon County to have some of the road sides and neighborhoods looking the way that they do, and despite what anyone thinks is a waste of money, I refuse to let Dillon County deteriorate any further,” said Clyburn.
“Dillon County has great people and can be a great place to live, but we need to present ourselves in a manner in which people from outside can appreciate what we have to offer.”
He said he has begun to concentrate some of his efforts towards simply cleaning this place up one road and one neighborhood at a time.
Clyburn said the second thing we have to do is to get citizens involved. “I think many of you would be surprised at the amount—and type—of people who have an interest in the direction of Dillon County,” said Clyburn. “We have been working on doing some community service projects and government and educational informational programs. You’d be shocked at the number of people—young people, people of all ages, races, educational levels, employment, and economic status—who really just want to volunteer and pitch in just because they care.” He said we have a duty to keep them involved.
Workforce and Education was another point he addressed. “We have to demand an educational system that allows children (and young adults—and not so young adults) to choose their own path based on their abilities and interests,” said Clyburn, who outlined four points.
The four points included:
1) “We need to make sure that we have effective vocational training in our schools.”
2) “We need to make sure we have a wide array of certifications in different trades—right here in Dillon County.”
3) “We need to make sure that we are giving students the opportunity to be competitive when they are aspiring to go off to college for professional degrees, like surgeons, chemists, attorneys, and other careers that you simply cannot reach at a two-year college.”
4) “We also need to make sure that students who want to go off to college one day can take on a more affordable solution for the first year or two right here in Dillon County.”
“If we are going to be bridge builders we have to realize that workforce development takes on many forms, and we need to make sure we are prepared to meet those needs for everyone,” Clyburn said.
Finally, he spoke about economic development. “The potential for economic development in Dillon County is greater than any county I have ever been to. …But we have to stop being satisfied with just having great potential. If we are going to be bridge builders, we must act on that potential. We must create an atmosphere for growth,” said Clyburn, which he said includes community development, citizen participation, and workforce development. He said it also includes partnerships with city governments, state government, and the surrounding counties.
He then asked what it means to build bridges. He said that “it means crating a place where people from all walks of life can enjoy the presence of one another and feel at ease amongst their fellow citizens. It means further enhancing a culture of fellowship and giving, one where people are consistently looking to help those less fortunate.”
He continued, “It means creating a place where manufacturers, distributors, restaurants, hotels, and other commercial outfits want to move here in droves. It means creating an economy so strong that anyone in Dillon County, if they ar eat least willing to try, can find a job that can support an entire family. It means creating a place where people from surrounding counties can come here to find jobs of all types.”
“And most of all, it means creating a place where kids can become education, and if they so desire, go off to college and one day come back to Dillon County to a meaningful, professional career and perhaps their parents can have the joy of seeing their grandkids raised nearby,” said Clyburn. “That is what building bridges is all about.
He then asked a series of questions. “Are we just pilgrims or bridge builders? Are we simply concerned with making a profit for today, or are we considerate of the effects our actions will have on the future? Are we only concerned about our own journey or do we have a regard for those who must come after us? Are we truly willing to sacrifice despite the weariness of own long, treacherous journey to make preparations for those whom we have never met?
Clyburn said if we are truly to consider ourselves bridge builders, we must set aside our useless excuses; we must set aside our unwillingness to adapt; we must set aside our insignificant differences; and only then can we truly call ourselves bridge builders.”