COLUMBIA — Andrena Powell-Baker, SCCED, has been named 2019-2020 President of the South Carolina Economic Developers’ Association (SCEDA), a statewide association with over 800 members and ties to all sectors of the economic development industry.
Powell-Baker, who has been a SCEDA member for ten years and on the board since 2014, is the association’s first president hailing from Union County, and seventh female president since the organization’s founding in 1965.
A native of Union County, Powell-Baker attended Lockhart High School before completing her bachelor’s degree at Winthrop University. Her professional background spans project management, leadership, sales, and business development roles, most recently serving as executive director of the Union County Development Board for nearly a decade. Today, Powell-Baker is Senior Manager of Community Relations and Development for Lockhart Power Company, based in Lockhart. In 2011, Andrena earned her South Carolina Certified Economic Developer (SCCED) accreditation through SCEDA, a distinction held by fewer than 45 economic developers throughout the state.
“I’m incredibly honored and eager to serve as SCEDA’s president for the 2019-2020 term,” said Powell-Baker. “Coming from a small rural community, I’m particularly honored to serve in this capacity as an ambassador for areas that don’t always win the big projects or who don’t always have a voice at the table. With SCEDA’s membership continuing to grow year to year, our organization is poised to remain a leading voice of economic development in South Carolina, as well as a leader in the region.”
During her tenure as president, Powell-Baker has several goals for SCEDA, including boosting member engagement utilizing the organizations’ eight subcommittees, maximizing members’ professional networking opportunities, and supporting legislation that can make SC more competitive. As SCEDA’s leader, she will represent the organization at regional and national events, as well as providing the “voice” of the association as media spokesperson.
• What drew you to economic development?
Initially, I was interested in expanding my career in business development but wanted to be closer to home as opposed to traveling 30% of the time. After landing the job as Executive Director of the Union County Development Board and working in the position for just a few short weeks, it was clear that economic development was my passion! Once it truly gets in your blood, there is no turning back.
• Throughout your career, how have you seen Union County grow and evolve? Is there a project you’re most proud to have been associated with?
Over the past 11 years or so, Union County has been the recipient of tremendous industrial growth from new industry recruitment, existing industry expansions, and infrastructure improvements. The one project that I’m most proud of was with a company that our team recruited and closed a deal with in 2012 which located in a vacant Milliken building in Midway Green Industrial Park. It was 2011, unemployment was in double digits in Union County and people were struggling to make a living. The recruitment of this company actually spurred other industrial growth and development in the community. The team of professionals from the Union County Development Board, Union County, the City of Union/Utilities, Lockhart Power, and the South Carolina Department of Commerce locked arms and demonstrated that as a collective body, we could be competitive enough and aggressive enough to win the deal and provide jobs for our citizens. A few months later, an employee engaged me at a local business and thanked our team for bringing this company to Union. He said his new job was enabling him to provide things for his family that he otherwise could not have provided.
• What is your hope for Union County for the future?
Sustainability and diverse quality of life is my hope for Union County’s future. We are all different and we derive satisfaction with health care, education, entertainment, environment, employment, or safety, in different ways. Leadership here has the potential, right now, to make decisions that will improve quality of life for every citizen and I do mean every citizen! Much of this potential is on the verge of being unleashed and will likely be driven by the tremendous expansion going on at USC-Union. I would love for Union County to be a place where our kids would want to live and where my daughter and her friends would want to move back to.
Since 1965, the S.C. Economic Developers’ Association (SCEDA) has served as the Voice of Economic Development in the Palmetto State. A professional trade association of more than 800 members, with representation from all 46 counties, SCEDA includes local and regional economic developers, as well as officials from municipal, county and state government agencies, construction and engineering firms, utility companies, attorneys, consultants, financial institutions, and higher education. To learn more, visit www.SCEDA.org.
This story courtesy of the SC Economic Developer’s Association.