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Regional economic development organization officially dissolves

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The chair of a regional economic development organization said the decision to dissolve the project management nonprofit was made knowing its legacy was in good hands and its work would be continued.

In a letter released Tuesday afternoon, EngenuitySC officially announced its disbanding, saying its board of directors made the decision “after thoughtful deliberation by its leadership and an evaluation of its mission,” according to the statement, though no specific reason was given. The letter thanked longtime organization supporters, including Columbia Mayor and board member Steve Benjamin and former Columbia Mayor Bob Cole, and noted the nonprofit’s accomplishments since its founding in 2003. 

Board chair and Cayce Mayor Elise Partin told the Columbia Regional Business Report that the board made the decision “knowing the mantle of our mission is thankfully being carried out by a number of organizations and entities that did not exist when (EngenuitySC) started but do now.”

“The difference in our region from when EngenuitySC started until now is palpable,” Partin said. “EngenuitySC’s board – made up of the region’s high-ranking leaders in education, government and business – has always stayed focused on what’s best for moving our region forward.”

Chief among the accomplishments highlighted in the letter was the creation of the annual Midlands Regional Competitiveness Report, which provides comparative data among similar regions to help the Midlands gauge areas of economic strengths and weaknesses and formulate development priorities. The EngenuitySC board called the report a “tangible legacy” and said ownership of the report has been transferred to the Midlands Business Leadership Group. 

“The Midlands Regional Competitiveness Report reminds us of the many reasons we have to celebrate and, at the same time, where we can continue to collaborate, advance, and build upon the unique strengths and assets of the Midlands,” the letter read.

MBLG, which will be led in 2022 by Nephron CEO Lou Kennedy and James Bennett, Mid-South Area Executive for First Citizens Bank, will release the latest competitiveness report in January, according to the letter, and will continue to produce the report. 

“EngenuitySC was organized to provide a forum for regional leaders to come together to work on economic development projects that needed to be pursued, projects which none of its leaders and stakeholders could accomplish on their own,” the EngenuitySC board said in the statement. At the time of the organization’s founding, the letter said, “there were scant economic development positions in our counties and municipalities. There was not a Midlands Business Leadership Group. Today, there is an abundance of entities focused on the good of our region.”

Other members of the EngenuitySC board include Lee Bussell, CEO and chair of Chernoff Newman; Roslyn Clark Artis, president and CEO of Benedict College; Harris Pastides, former and interim president of the University of South Carolina; and Paul Livingston, Richland County Council chair.

“It’s important to remember that when EngenuitySC started in 2003, the economic development conversations in the region either weren’t happening at all or were only occurring in silos,” Benjamin said in the letter. “EngenuitySC has been a proactive, forward-thinking organization and has served as a catalyst to spur smart, intergovernmental and intersectoral partnerships.”

Reach Melinda Waldrop at 803-726-7542.

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