Lowcountry workforce experts talk shortages, economic development

JASPER CO., SC (WTOC) - Economic development has been a big topic of discussion in the Lowcountry, especially since the announcement of the future Jasper Ocean Terminal.

Now, officials are faced with the challenge of creating economic opportunities to mirror the growth we can see in the area over the next 10 years.

The main message at Tuesday's discussion was that you can't have economic development without a workforce, and you can't have a workforce without proper education and training.

The panel looked at the problems they're seeing on a local, regional and even state levels. One of the main factors in creating economic development is education and training, which means making sure people are trained and skilled in the industries coming to the area. That's why the Beaufort County School District started programs aimed at technology, and business incubators are popping up across the Lowcountry.

"From an economic development standpoint, trying to recruit companies to come down to Bluffton or Beaufort County is sometimes a challenge, because companies want to know what kind of workforce we have that will meet their needs, and sometimes the answer is 'not right now until we get some of these initiatives going,' said David Nelems, CEO, Don Ryan Center of Innovation.

Another major component of this discussion is employee retention. Officials says it's hard to develop affordable housing so employees can work where they live and live where they work.

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