Caring for co-op members while a pandemic is on the rise

Industry

Cooperative-served industrial/commercial members

County

Across the state of South Carolina

Served By

All 20 of South Carolina's Electric Cooperatives

Date

March 2020-December 2020

Background: 

The South Carolina Power Team is the only statewide economic development entity in South Carolina other than its Department of Commerce. Our business retention and expansion program augments cooperative efforts to care for industrial/commercial members, primarily via an industry visitation program now over 30 years old. Because of this systematic, sustained effort, the Power Team maintains outstanding communication lines with manufacturers, distribution centers and businesses, statewide.

A business-friendly state, South Carolina has a large network of support institutions and deploys many state and local incentives to make industrial and commercial expansion more achievable. Time and again, the Power Team is the convener of those resources for the support of business in growth and/or stability.

Challenge:  South Carolina state and local officials acted immediately to respond to the public health crisis of COVID-19 and to mitigate its effects on all parts of society – including business and industry – as the pandemic began growing in 2020. The need for effective, safe information sharing, on a wide scale, was acute.

Solution:  On March 16, 2020, the South Carolina Power Team pivoted from conventional operations and shifted its focus to support for electric cooperatives, co-op served industrial/commercial members and the economic development community of South Carolina (counties, regions, SC Department of Commerce). Before the end of the month, our team developed and sent a COVID-19 emergency relief and assistance email to industry in electric cooperative service area. We also added a COVID-19 microsite to SCpowerteam.com, containing abundant resource information and a special virus mapping tool. A survey was deployed for safe information collecting.

Throughout April and May 2020, the Power Team focused on information sharing that amplified important resources for our audiences OR that identified resources unlikely to have been highlighted in normal channels. We also began aggregating information on COVID-19 driven closings, shutdowns, layoffs and production cuts among our industrial/commercial members.

Result:  New and expanding industry made more than $800 million in capital investment in electric cooperative service area in 2020, resulting in the creation of more than 2,000 new jobs. The number of verifiable, permanent lost jobs in cooperative service area, for the same time-period, was less than 500.

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