Sunday, June 26, 2005
More needs to
be done for rural residents
SC Statehouse Report
26, 2005 - - About one in four South Carolinians live in rural
areas of the state, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture
Compared to folks who live in urban areas, rural residents
in South Carolina face an unemployment rate that's almost
twice as high. Per capita annual income is $3,723 less ($23,345
compared to $27,068 in metro areas, according to 2003 figures).
Poverty is higher. Educational attainment is lower. Access
to quality health care is less available. Infant mortality
rates are higher.
Across the South where 34 percent of residents live in rural
areas, the story is much the same. A new report by the Southern
Growth Policies Board (www.southern.org)
says while progress is being made in rural areas, more needs
to be done to close the gap. Otherwise, the split between
the metropolitan haves and the rural have-nots will continue
The report, called "The
New Architecture for Rural Prosperity," essentially
calls for rural areas to work together - - to collaborate
- - to generate smart, economic development opportunities.
Instead of each county acting as a silo developer to try
to woo an industry to that county, for example, counties in
a region - - perhaps even across state borders - - should
work collaboratively to manage economic development to grow
"If the rural South is to enjoy sustained prosperity,
then its economic development architecture must be perceived
whole and understood in all its diversity," the report
says. "It must be designed and managed as an integrated
WORLD: Fun for bureaucrats
State tax system needs to change
TRACK: Right on Sanford election
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Working together seems like a no-brainer. But anyone who
has gone to Friday night football games in the rural South
knows about the fierce competition and sense of pride in the
local home team. These rivalries compound local fears of losing
identity to generate barriers for regional cooperation.
But the report, based on talks, forums and input from more
than 2,500 people across the South, has some good ideas to
help rural areas overcome barriers.
Regional prosperity alliances. The report suggests
the formation of higher-level regional alliances of prominent
leaders from across the public and private sectors to meet,
talk about problems and offer solutions. Such alliances would
make plans, coordinate economic development efforts and tackle
a host of issues to make an area more competitive. Money can
be pooled to deal with critical needs, such as the work of
the Southwest Alabama Pulp and Paper Industrial Alliance,
which was formed to provide rural students with college scholarships
and better training opportunities.
More rural economic development funding. State economic
development offices often steer potential industrial prospects
to metro areas. But if the state really concentrated its financial
power more to help rural areas, it can make a big difference.
Just look to the example of the OneGeorgia project, which
will pump $1.6 billion into rural economic development for
Georgia over the next 25 years. It is using a share of tobacco
settlement money to fund the program. In South Carolina, lawmakers
used 73 percent of the $785 million it got in tobacco monies
to shore up Medicaid health costs. Grants to local government
for economic development totaled a paltry $15.7 million.
Educational facilitators. Regional colleges or technical
colleges can act as facilitators of regional prosperity projects
because they have the area respect and intellectual resources
to push the initiatives forward, the report says. Another
example from Georgia highlights how the state's Rural Development
Council commissioned the University of Georgia to study workforce
housing conditions. Researchers found a lot of Latinos who
worked in a rural poultry operation didn't know how to buy
or finance a home. That generated another project with a local
bank to help educate workers about housing opportunities.
The collaborative result? Lower turnover rates for the poultry
operation, 70 new jobs, $3 million in new home construction
and $3 million in new local business.
Bottom line: For the rural South to have more prosperity,
it's going to have to take the bull by the horns and work
together, pool resources and pool its strengths. State lawmakers
can help by seeding worthy projects. In the long run, targeted
state rural investments will pay off more than anyone can
6/26: Fun for
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
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State tax system needs to change
To the editor:
Your column "State tax system old" (Commentary,
6/19) was great and true. I live in Beaufort County.
Property taxes in our county aren't consistent.
In Beaufort County,our taxes have doubled and tripled this
year due to the influx of new people moving into our county
and buying at unreal prices and raising the values. If the
purchase price immediately would be put on the tax books for
the next tax year, then our county could make a lot of money.
As it is, if the property has already been appraised by the
county in 1994, the taxes aren't changed for 5 years. This
newcomer has a free ride until the next county appraisal.
Is this fair?
The "fair market value" affects me who has lived
in the same house for 30 years. I don't want to move, but
the land values and taxes are a killer. I am getting older,
and the taxes are a lot.
Everybody needs to pay taxes, but something has to change.
-- Hedy Williams, Beaufort, S.C.
Here's some other recent feedback to Statehouse Report:
won't go away,
Jerry Ausband, Garden City Beach, SC
deserts the governor, Rose
Condon, Charleston, S.C.
on doctors is bad legislation, Stephen A Imbeau,
MD, Florence, S.C.
is wrong for SC, Sandy Gibson, Lexington, SC
doesn't care for Average Joes, Sandy Gibson, Lexington,
with what passes as a Republican, Janet Upshaw,
on Sanford is liberal hogwash, Lew Richards, Manning,
on Sanford election
This section tracks past forecasts by Statehouse Report
with other media reports:
In Statehouse Report:
more vulnerable than you think:
"Unless the Democrats
do the work to make themselves competitive, it's a good
bet that Sanford will win re-election in November 2006."
In The State:
Sanford will be tough to beat. "Whoever
wins the partys nomination next June will face
a difficult task trying to unseat Republican Gov. Mark
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Harrell. Congratulations again to the new Speaker
of the House of Representatives, Rep. Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston,
who was sworn in this week.
Graham. Hats off to US Sen. Lindsey Graham of South
Carolina for saying what more people are wondering -- how
long is the Iraq war going to continue?
Wilson. Thumbs down to the irresponsible political
war-mongering rhetoric this week of US Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.
Erwin. State Democratic Party Chair Joe Erwin this
week blamed Gov. Mark Sanford for the state losing a new aircraft
plant to Alabama. While we think Sanford is misguided and
to blame for a lot of things, Erwin is a off base on this
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