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Keynote Address


									                    Presentation to Pickens Vision 2025 Kickoff
                                         George Fletcher
                                        September 18, 2007

A community’s greatest assets are her people, and you have an amazing asset in Gerry Sweitzer.
Gerry came to me to discuss Greenville’s vision process, and I quickly learned that he was an
expert on non-profit accounting. Then I learned he was a published author, a private aviation
enthusiast, a travel guru, a talented photographer, an accomplished fund raiser. He has an
amazing feel for not only economic development, but what can transform that economy.

In some ways, we are coming home tonight. Some 35 plus years ago, my wife and I took out a
marriage license at the court house up the street. I’m happy to report that the license is still valid.

As well, in the last dozen years, I have had the pleasure of working with many of your steering

     Mayor Abernathy and Jim London on the Tri County Landfill,
     Charles Dalton and Neal Workman on economic development,
     Andy Westbrook on United Way,
     Chris Przirembel on ICAR,
     Kent Dykes, Bill Walsh and Carol Burdette on Rotary
I have also been a huge fan of Senator Martin, ever since his courageous work on Tort Reform

And I congratulate all of you for working through the Vision Process. The document looks
terrific and at least in my brief review this evening, I have not seen the dreaded glitch. What, you
ask, is the dreaded glitch? Well, in Greenville we printed 5000 full color fold out brochures.
And somewhere in the middle of our sense of place section was a line that said “the major
villages were connected with a system of gateways, greenways and boulevards that include trees,
public art and fountains.” Only somehow our proof reader (me) missed the fact that it did not say
public, it said “pubic art.” I can’t tell you how many examples of pubic art were e-mailed to me
over the next several weeks. Needless to say, we raised money to reprint the document.

Tom Friedman, in his book The World is Flat said “Everyone is going to have to relearn to
compete. In many ways, the vision processes and in fact, what I am doing at the state level, are
new attempts to deal with the mind boggling changes that have gone on around us in the that
same dozen years that I mentioned. Friedman talks about 10 factors over the past 20 years that
have changed the world forever:

       The Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989
       Netscape going public in 1995, pouring millions into the internet development
       Microsoft and work flow software
       Oursourcing. World Com and Global Crossing
       Offshoring. China
       Open source software
       Supply chains. Walmart
       UPS
       Google
       Blackberry, wireless, voice over internet

It is a mind boggling list, and frankly, SC in general and the Upstate in particular, became a little
too dependent on a manufacturing economy. We became a little too complacent about serious
education problems. We did not foresee a general meltdown of the textile industry. The
recession of 2000-2002 was a serious wake up call.

In 2003, the Palmetto Institute brought Harvard Professor Michael Porter to study the state’s
economy. His findings were pretty grim and he made 8 recommendations for improving the
economy. In many ways, his recommendations were a vision for SC’s future. The Council on
Competitiveness, now called New Carolina, was created to help implement those

To help make the State competitive, our objectives are threefold:
     to find, birth, build and celebrate industrial clusters
     To work on specific initiatives to improve the business environment
     To connect the dots with efforts such as yours

To that end we have over 25 committees and 200 volunteers working on specific initiatives. As
Executive Director, I think I have one of the great jobs on earth. I have the opportunity to tour
the state and and if the Pickens County vision made you feel optimistic, you should see what is
going on elsewhere in the state.

This is all thanks to the legislature and their support of initiatives like ICAR, to state and local
government, to business and their socially responsible leadership and to an Army of non-profits
like the Council that are trying to pull the boat in the same direction. We have incredible assets in
this State, and I think we are going to compete very well.

I will give you just one example. At the Savannah River National Lab, a researcher was
investigating the sludge in the bottom of one of the high level nuclear storage tanks. The soup
was a pH of 14, and the radiation levels were 4000 times a lethal dose to humans. Now you
investigate this sort of thing very carefully, but in the bottom of this muck, he found single cell
bacteria. And the bacteria was not only living, but merrily reproducing. Even more incredible
was the DNA on the parent bacteria was damaged due to the radiation levels, but the offspring
was no damaged. They are studying this phenomenon in detail, because of potential incredible
applications for to medicine, radiation therapy and so on.

I would like to focus the rest of my remarks tonight on implementation. A vision after all is box
to view the future and a broad framework for making decisions. But so many vision processes
are documents that gather dust on a shelf. So, here are my suggestions:

First, let’s learn from the vision processes of your neighbors. Here is an overview.

       Anderson and Oconee Visions. I understand that your consultant, Lynn Cherry, is also
        coordinating these vision processes. What a great opportunity to compare and contrast.

       Asheville’s 2000 vision was to be the healthiest community in the southeast. They
        generated a substantial list of metrics and publish progress on an annual basis. They
        encouraged wellness programs, community weight loss, etc.

       Greenville, 2005. This was the vision process that started in 1987. It was basically a list
        of projects. It included the Peace Center, the Bi-Lo Center, the Southern Connector, Falls

        Park, the Governor’s School for the Arts, the renaissance of downtown. There was no
        formal implementation, except for a group of very powerful and visionary leaders who
        grabbed it and made it happen. Future generations of Greenvillians will be indebted to
        Max Heller, Buck Mickel, Tommy Wyche and many other leaders who adopted
        individual projects and made them happen.

        Buck Mickel was Chairman of Daniel Construction, and he used to carry around lists of
        projects. I have two of his lists of his, including one that was written close to when he
        passed away, that had 58 projects, along with an estimate of cost and who was
        responsible for making it happen. And if your name was on that list, and something was
        not happening, Buck had this wonderful technique of sending handwritten notes in red
        ink asking what he could to help. And that was your signal that you better get off your
        duff and do something.

       Spartanburg, 2003. Spartanburg’s vision was also a significant listing of projects. Key
        leaders like those on your Steering Committee met once a month at 8:00 am once a
        month to review progress on specific initiatives. They are now 80% complete and the
        group is contemplating a new vision process.

       Greenville 2025. This Chamber driven initiative was done at a time when City and
        County political leadership were barely talking to each other. One of our objectives was
        to show how much we have in common. Regardless of your political leaning, most
        people want a safe and clean environment, a healthy economy, good jobs and good
        schools and public amenities that contribute to the overall quality of life. That vision was
        completed in 2004, and now a group called Greenville Forward is overseeing the
        implementation. They have raised some $300,000 to support the effort, and trying to
        raise money for sustaining the effort of the next five years.

       Regional Vision. This effort is being Chaired by Irv Welling and staffed by Judy Prince
        at USC Upstate. It is just now getting off the ground. The effort reflects the fact that
        regions will be the cities of the future. The world looks at Upstate SC as one place, so
        organizations like Upstate Forever, the Upstate Alliance and USC Upstate have been

The point here is that we are not competing with each other. We are competing with Boston, and
Bangladore and Beijing. Tonight, I am proposing that New Carolina sponsor a Conversation on a
Regional Vision, bring people together for a half day meeting to review each other’s vision. It is
the first step in this wonderful new age management philosophy: we talk to each other.”

So, working with others vision initiatives is my first recommendation for jump starting the

    2. Education and Development Act. This is the program where students will be exposed
       to career tracks in 5th grade, identify one in 8th grade and take electives and internships in
       High School in order to better understand connections between school and the workplace.
       Where this has been implemented, test scores have risen and fewer kids drop out. Your
       delegation will soon be appointing members to an oversight Board from Anderson,
       Oconee and Pickens County. This is a great opportunity for implementing a number of
       your education recommendations.

3. Land Use Plans. In 1998, the SC Legislature mandated that every county would develop
   a 10 year land use plan. In 2009, the second 10 year plan must be completed. This
   should be a great opportunity for moving many of your 21 Planned Community
   recommendations forward. We also have an unfunded regional transportation plans (in
   GPATS), as well as water plans, sewer plans, other utility plans, school plans, etc. One
   of our problems is that no one is planning for the planners. The 2009 Land Use Plan,
   combined with your vision statement, is a great opportunity to rectify that.

    It won’t be easy. For a while in Greenville, almost every time that I gave a vision speech,
    there was a group that would follow me around and distribute materials talking about the
    fact that visioning was a conspiracy of the United Nations to destroy personal property
    rights. They were not confrontational, but they truly believed that it was part of a larger

    Property rights are important, but so is protecting what is already there. I think taking a
    positive approach to land use planning is a good way to start.

4. Tourism. Tourism is a $16 billion dollar industry in this state, and we are predicting that
   it will grow to $40 billion by 2020. Pickens County has incredible tourism assets: a
   history that extends back to your namesake, General Andrew Pickens, Clemson, the Fort
   Hill Plantation, Lake Keowee, Table Rock State Park, the Foothills Trail along the
   escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Keowee. All told, there are some
   300,000 acres of permanently protected parkland along the escarpment, an area half the
   size of Great Smoky National Park and 1/5 the size of Yellowstone. Our consultant is
   currently working on a comprehensive tourism plan for the upstate. Your group should
   get involved with him.

5. Urban Centers. Urban centers, our cities are still the key to regional economies. They
   are the primary determinants of our quality of life. They are magnets for young people.
   All over the country, there is a new urbanism, as people find their way back to cities. My
   boss, Ed Sellers, CEO of Blue Cross, wrote an op ed piece that was in the Greenville
   News last Sunday entitled “Successful States Invest in Cities.” He called on the
   legislature to change the restrictive and outdated annexation laws that choke the growth
   of cities.

6. The New Economy. Early on in my vision work, someone said “it’s the economy,
   stupid.” They were right. A strong economy can drive the other parts of the vision. Of
   course, you can say that same thing about health and education. There are groups like
   mine that agree with much of your vision and are trying to grow a new economy in South
   Carolina. We are going through changes, sometimes gut wrenching changes, as we lose
   manufacturing and seek new ways to compete.

    My organization is about industrial clusters. Although you did not use the term clusters,
    you did call for accommodating business in automotive, equipment assembly, medical
    services, education, tourism, agriculture and technology. Just a few examples that we are
    currently working with:

        a. Agribusiness (biomass, where we may have a real competitive advantage
        b. Alternate energy (including hydrogen, nuclear, wind)

            c. Textiles, (and by the way, many of the 729 textile companies are doing very
            d. Composites
            e. Medical devices

            I think our work in these areas can benefit Pickens County.

    7. Young People. For many of us, a successful future would mean that the bright and
       talented young people would stay in SC. Today, we are losing half of our college
       graduates. When we have looked at some of the most successful economies on earth,
       Ireland, Queensland, Australia, for example, one of their major motivations was keeping
       the young people at home. Richard Florida says to attract the creative class, you need the
       the three T’s: Talent, Technology and Tolerance. Whatever it is, creating the kind of
       environment where our young people, and perhaps the next Buck Mickel, can embrace
       the vision, engage with the community and create the future. Then all of your work, our
       work, will have been worthwhile.

In the final analysis, Planning, Work, Health, Sense of Place and Education are important, but the
real issue is about leadership, and the courage to carry your vision forward. I thank you for your
efforts and I pledge to do everything that the Council can do to help with the implementation.


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