2012-12-31 / Front Page

Indicators Project will have $1.4 million impact over next decade

By SCOTT POWELL Ledger Staff Writer spowell@gaffneyledger.com

A community planning group is focused on changing the education culture in Cherokee County in order to leave a lasting economic legacy.

The Cherokee County Community Indicators Project is expected to have a total economic impact of nearly $1.4 million over the next decade, according to a report released Dec. 19 by the Philanthropic Collaborative in Washington.

The Philanthropic Collaborative is a nonpartisan organization that brings together foundations, charities and elected officials to provide information to policymakers and others about the economic and social impacts of foundation grant-making.

The study by the Philanthropic Collaborative used the case studies to observe the economic impact of foundation grants on job creation, wages, tax revenues and projects focused on higher education levels. The case studies included in the report highlight initiatives such as a riverfront redevelopment effort in Chattanooga, the Cherokee 2020 initiative, and a program in the Pacific Northwest to provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Cherokee 2020 grew out of a community indicators project developed in 2009 by the United Way of the Piedmont, Cherokee County Community Foundation, and the Upstate Investment Board.

A total of $15,000 in seed grant money was provided to support work by committees of local residents to address issues such as education and economic development identified in the community indicators report. For example, the Cherokee County Know 2 education initiative has resulted in a $60,000 county scholarship fund that has resulted in 35 students enrolling in industrial trade programs over the past year at Spartanburg Community College.

The Know 2 education initiative was developed by retired executive director Dr. Garry Walters for the state’s Commission on Higher Education. Key focuses of the collaboration with local community members are education, job training and building life skills for young workers.

The economic development committee has commissioned a Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) Study to analyze what it will take for industries to grow and thrive in Cherokee County. The study focuses on existing industries, which account for 60 percent to 80 percent of new jobs in Cherokee County.

“The goals of the BR&E study are twofold; one, help us retain the industries we already have, and two, make sure we address the barriers they see to expanding right here in Cherokee County,” said Bailey Humphries, chair of the economic development committee.

The Philanthropic Collaborative estimates the Cherokee 2020 project will create $1.4 million in longterm economic impact through programs developed by county residents. The indirect taxes of $28,000 recouped from the efforts of Cherokee 2020 easily surpass the original $15,000 grant from the Cherokee County Community Foundation.

“Foundation investments set off a cascade of benefits in our communities over the course of decades,” said Steven Peterson, clinical assistant professor of economics at the University of Idaho and lead author of the report. “We now have a stronger understanding of the link between the shortand long-term impact of foundation grants and their significant contribution of economic growth.”

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