Council briefed on global cities initiative

By Derik Vanderford dvanderford@civitasmedia.com

March 13, 2014

UNION COUNTY — Topics addressed during Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Union County Council included the Union County Non-Profit Partnership Center, a proposed housing consortium for the Catawba region, a new project for the Upstate SC Alliance, the 2014 Upcountry Literary Festival, and a service award for a longtime county employee.

Union County Non-Profit Partnership Center

Libbie Cheek of United Way of the Piedmont gave an update to council about the Union County Non-Profit Partnership Center.

“Thank you for hearing out the vision and need United Way saw,” Cheek said. “We looked around the community and saw that people were using these agencies, but they had to go outside the county.”

The center — located at the Union County Health Department — currently provides a location for six non-profit partners including United Way, the American Red Cross, the Alzheimer’s Association, Able South Carolina, the Children’s Advocacy Center and The Miracle League of Union County.

Cheek pointed out that The Union County Non-Profit Partnership Center is approaching its first anniversary and will host a drop-in from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday, Mar. 18, to celebrate.

Housing Consortium

Council also heard from Grazier Rhea and Angela Kirkpatrick with Catawba Regional COG to discuss a proposed housing consortium for the region which includes Chester, Lancaster, Union and York counties. The main objective for the consortium is to increase affordable housing opportunities for low-income households, which Kirkpatrick said is a need in the Catawba region.

If approved, funding for the consortium would come directly from HUD as part of the HOME program, and the amount for this region would depend on the number of jurisdictions within the state to receive a share of the total funds available. It would also depend on the amount of HOME funds Congress appropriates each fiscal year and the demographic profile of each jurisdiction. According to HUD’s Home Consortia Builder, estimated funding for the Catawba region could potentially be as much as $790,000 annually. Kirkpatrick pointed out that amount was set by HUD and could change year to year. Non-profits, Community Housing Development Organizations, Housing Authorities and other eligible interested parties will be eligible to apply for funding from the consortium each year.

Kirkpatrick asked council to consider the option of participating in the consortium. She said there is no financial commitment required of the county. County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair asked Rhea about feedback received from other counties in the region, and she said each of them have expressed interest in participation.

Kirkpatrick said the consortium would form a partnership of all jurisdictions, but there has to be a lead entity which takes on extra paperwork and some financial responsibility. She said Lancaster County has already volunteered to be the lead entity. A board of directors will be set up, giving each jurisdiction equal representation.

Upstate SC Alliance

In other business, council heard a presentation from Clay Andrews with Upstate SC Alliance to discuss a joint program between the alliance and Brookings Global Cities Initiative.

“Union County is a financial supporter of the Upstate SC Alliance, and I wanted to make you aware of something happening on your behalf,” Andrews said.

Andrews said the Upstate of South Carolina was selected for the Global Cities Initiative through a competitive application process late last year. He also said over the next four years, the team will work along with fellow exchange members to develop the practical knowledge, policy ideas and networks needed to become more globally connected and competitive.

Andrews said while past economic development strategies for the Upstate have always included an international component, the strategy that will result from work with the Brookings Global Cities Initiative will be purely international and focused on growing local economy through continued focus on international recruitment, a new focus on increasing exports of Upstate goods and services, and a new focus on increasing international investment through possible joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions.

Upcountry Literary Festival

County Council then addressed a request from USC Union for $1,500 from hospitality and accommodations funds to go toward funding for this year’s Upcountry Literary Festival, which will be held March 21-22 at USC Union. Council voted to fulfill the request, with the understanding that the county expects to see attendance data from the event for sustainability.

Service Award

County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair presented a service award to Troy Champion, who has worked with Union County for a total of 20 years.