What must we do to make South Carolina world class and globally connected in the 21st Century?
This is a very simple question, and how we as a state answer it will determine if we become a national and international leader in the 21st Century or if we continue to drift and fall farther and farther behind.
Envision South Carolina is an exciting new project being launched next week to engage the people of our state in a conversation about this question and to offer their ideas and suggestions. The project is being sponsored by the College of Charleston, with the help of the SC Chamber of Commerce, numerous newspapers, TV stations, and other business and civic-sector groups from around the state.
And everyone — yes everyone — in the state can and should be a part of Envision SC and contribute their ideas.
It all began with a simple column last year about how in Colonial days South Carolina was world class — a global leader in business, politics, arts and science. But, this success was built on slavery and when the Civil War thankfully changed that, our state struggled with poverty and racism. Only in the second half of the 20th Century did South Carolina begin to emerge from our troubled past and take our rightful place in the nation.
Now, in the new, globally-connected, high-tech world of the 21st Century, the question is, will we in South Carolina do the things we need to do to be successful in this new era? Will we invest in education and technology in ways that make real progress possible?
The cynics will tell you they already know the answers to those questions. They’ll say that our state is too poor, too backward, too … whatever to ever embrace a forward-looking, transformational approach to its future.
But, as is so often the case, the cynics in this instance are wrong. South Carolina today is poised for greatness. It has great natural beauty, a rapidly emerging advanced-manufacturing sector featuring companies like Boeing, BMW and Michelin. In Charleston alone, the state has over 250 information technology companies. Most importantly, the state has a diverse, hard-working population that has learned over the past two generations how to live and work and learn together. These are the essential ingredients for success in tomorrow’s global economy, and South Carolina is blessed with all of them.
Envision South Carolina brings together over 40 of our state’s best and brightest in a series of interview discussions about what we must do to be successful. These interviews will be published and broadcast by the state’s media over the next seven weeks and everyone will be encouraged to go to our website and respond to these interviews and give us their own ideas and comments about what we as a state should do.
We expect Envision SC to culminate with a special celebration day on the College of Charleston campus, which will bring together our state’s world-class doers, thinkers, students, business people and the public.
But the most important part of Envision SC is YOU — the people of South Carolina.
We need everyone to give us their ideas and suggestions of what we as a state must do to be successful. History has shown that the best ideas always come from the bottom up and not the top down…that’s why we want everyone to participate.
So — what’s your idea? What do you think we need to do to become world class in the 21st Century?
Look for the Envision SC interviews on television and in newspapers, visit our website www.EnvisionSC.org and give us your ideas.
Working together, we can all make South Carolina world class again!
— P. George Benson is the president of the College of Charleston. Phil Noble runs a technology company in Charleston. info@EnvisionSC.org.