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Published on April 25th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


Department of Commerce holds 25th Annual SC Rural Summit

Pictured center, Craig Melvin, NBC’s “TODAY” show and the Claflin University Choir

State honors individuals for leadership in rural economic development

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Department of Commerce gathered leaders from across the state on Thursday evening for the 2015 South Carolina Rural Summit. Held at the South Carolina State Museum in downtown Columbia, this year’s silver anniversary event featured an awards ceremony, a performance from the Claflin University Choir, a retrospective look at rural economic development in South Carolina since 1990 and a keynote address, given by Craig Melvin, national correspondent for NBC’s “TODAY” show.

Throughout the years, the Rural Summit has provided community leaders, economic developers and state officials the opportunity to come together and hold collaborative discussions on ways to improve rural South Carolina. Additionally, the Summit serves as a venue to honor individuals for work they’ve done to advance their respective communities.

“Each and every county in South Carolina boasts attributes that make it a candidate for growth. Through our team-first approach and the efforts of local leadership throughout the state, we can ensure the advancement and economic success of all of our communities,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt.

Three individuals were recognized during the awards portion of Thursday’s event; among them were Dorothy Choice of Clarendon County, Carson Anderson of Barnwell County and Jason Speake, a former Department of Commerce project manager.

As the recipient of the 2015 Rural Summit Humanitarian Award, Dorothy Choice has devoted much of her life to improving the lives of others in her Summerton, S.C. community. Specifically, Choice has been committed to helping local youth, serving as chairwoman of the Pride in Summerton Committee and playing an integral role in the establishment of a youth baseball team in Clarendon County.

The 2015 Rural Scholastic Achievement Award was presented to Carson Anderson of Barnwell County. As a member of both the National Honor Society and BETA Club, the Barnwell High School junior plays three sports and has earned recognition as both a National High School Scholar and Junior Scholar. Anderson has also been recognized by the United States Achievement Academy.

Each year, the Department of Commerce also recognizes one of its own – a project manager who has had the most positive impact on rural South Carolina – with its Rural Development Project Leader Award. This year’s recipient, Jason Speake, who was recently appointed director of Business Development at the Northeastern Strategic Alliance, accounted for the announcement of 790 new jobs and a capital investment of more than $62 million in rural South Carolina last year. This equates to eleven new projects in ten different rural counties.

“It’s a privilege to honor these invaluable members of Team South Carolina,” said Secretary Hitt. “The people of this state truly are our secret sauce, and I’m inspired to see the positive impacts that they’ve had on both their local communities and our entire state.”

About S.C. Department of Commerce
As South Carolina’s leading economic development agency, the Department of Commerce works to recruit new businesses and help existing business grow. Commerce has recruited world-class companies to South Carolina such as Boeing, Bridgestone, Continental,, ZF Group, BMW and Google Inc. and also supports startups, small and existing business, innovation and rural development initiatives. Commerce partners with the S.C Technical College System via readySC to support workforce training and recruiting, and with the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, which provides worker training and employment opportunities within the state. Consistently, South Carolina has ranked as one of the top states in the nation for attracting jobs through foreign investment, according to IBM-Plant Location International reports. The state won the Gold Shovel Award and the Project of Year Award from Area Development magazine in 2012. For more information, visit


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