by on August 20, 2015

By: Colin Riddle, Index-Journal

Months after denying immediate funding for Greenwood Promise during budget discussions, Greenwood County Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday showing support for Promise. Housed under the Foundation for a Greater Greenwood, the Greenwood Partnership Alliance's nonprofit foundation, the Promise is aimed at providing tuition to all eligible Greenwood County high school graduates for up to an associate's degree in its first phase and potentially offering assistance for four-year degrees.

During budget discussions earlier this year, County Council chose to deny two funding requests from Partnership -- one proposal was to use 40 percent of fee in lieu of ad valorem taxes from new industry locating in the county for the Greenwood Promise in addition to prospective site and building development, the other proposal was to have the county commit to paying $200,000 a year for five years.

The new resolution, which the county approved, provides official support for the initiative. It also states the county could offer future funding, but must first identify a source for the funds. "The county's support is critical to the execution of a public-private educational attainment model such as the Greenwood Promise," Heather Simmons Jones, chief executive officer of Greenwood Partnership Alliance, said.

"The fact that County Council has publicly pledged their support for this initiative shows their commitment to educating youth in our community, preparing our workforce and making Greenwood County a place that young professionals want to live and work." Councilwoman Edith Childs asked when the council will let Promise know about possible future funding. Responding to Childs, Council Chairman Steve Brown said Council can take up the issue in the future.

The resolution sets funding for Promise as a discussion item for the county's budget process. Councilman Chuck Moates said he would like to see Lander University serve as the primary benefactor for four-year degrees once that phase is ready, similar to Piedmont Technical College being the primary recipient of students and scholarships if the desired major is offered. "If there is a four-year degree effort, then I think the Greenwood Promise should initially primarily be for a student at Lander University," Moates said. "I think our dollars ought to be kept in Greenwood." Ron Millender, chairman of the Promise steering committee, said Lander will continue to be a partner and participate in discussions moving the initiative forward.

Promise also updated Council on its progress:

  • A mission statement was created for the organization to promote the message of increasing economic growth with a skilled and educated workforce.
  • Promise has formed a steering committee and a campaign cabinet, led by Jim Pfeiffer, president and chief executive officer of Self Regional Healthcare.
  • The organization has established a limited liability corporation.
  • Promise is researching software options for program administration. The next step for Promise is formal solicitations for fundraising, which should happen over the next few weeks.

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