PICKENS COUNTY — A group of leaders from Pickens County recently returned from a trip to the Karlsruhe District of southern Germany.
The group, consisting of County Council Chairman Roy Costner, Vice Chairman Chris Bowers, Alliance Pickens Director Ray Farley, County Attorney Ken Roper and Tourism Director Jay Pitts, met with industrial and government officials with a view toward building increased economic, educational and cultural ties between the communities.
Pickens County Information Specialist Sharon Johnson said the trip was paid for from travel expenditures approved in the County’s 2017/18 budget.
As a part of the initiative on the week-long trip, the delegation toured the Baden area facility of era-contact, which recently completed construction of its $3.6 million facility in the Pickens County Commerce Park.
The tour gave Pickens officials a firsthand look at the operations of era-contact’s headquarters facility, as well as insight into the company’s long term plans for its Pickens operation, Johnson said.
Additionally, the county group met with leaders of the Karlsruhe government and began outlining plans for increased educational and cultural exchanges between the regions — which bear striking similarities in geography and climate.
“It was great to be a part of something innovative,” stated Bowers. “By doing something we’ve never done before, we have opened doors for some exciting opportunities for tourism, economic development, as well as cultural exchanges. We took a small step in showing the world how great Pickens County is, not only with our resources, but with our value of community, family and culture as well. I ran on the idea that ‘It’s about people, not politics’ — this trip was about people, expanding relationships with worldwide leader, era-contact, in our community and creating new relationships with the others. These relationships are the foundations that will be fruitful long after you or me.”
While details would need to be developed further, she stated, the Pickens County group sees possibilities for students, graduates and skilled workers to directly benefit. The county group also extended an invitation to their counterparts in Germany to visit Pickens County in the coming year for further discussions.
“Our approach on this trip is a well-established mechanism for promoting economic development and tourism growth,” said Costner. “Establishing ‘sister’ communities abroad has been extremely helpful to our neighbors in Anderson, Greenville and Spartanburg.”
Alliance Pickens Director Ray Farley added that from an economic development perspective, the Karlsruhe District and Pickens County have much in common.
“Both locations value the environment, education and a skilled workforce, which gives us a foundation to work upon,” he said. “I remain excited for the economic development of Pickens County and for the opportunities that international companies and community partnerships provide.”
Tourism Director Jay Pitts was equally impressed with the visit stating her was “overwhelmed” by what he saw and learned on the trip.
“There is no question that we can learn from each other by sharing ideas on bringing tourism to both communities,” he said. “We were proud and honored to take Pickens County to the world and we look forward to now bringing the world to Pickens County.”
“It is time for Pickens County to plant its flag on the big map and show the world what we have to offer. I know that this is just the beginning, and this small investment will bring rich rewards to our beautiful county,” said Costner.