Tuesday, March 31, 2015

New report published by the SmartState team: “An Assessment of Tourism Development Along the Santee Cooper Waterway”

The SmartState team has just finished a comprehensive study looking at potential tourism development along the Santee Cooper waterway. The study, funded by Santee Cooper, Santee Cooper Country, and the SmartState Center, included focus group sessions with area stakeholders, an economic impact analysis, and surveys of residents and visitors. We also visited several waterways in the U.S. and Europe to make observations, interview key stakeholders, and obtain the most up-to-date information regarding tourism infrastructure and facilities on and around waterways. As a result of the nine-month study, we made a number of recommendations. Attracting investment for new infrastructure and product development will be paramount, and new tourism-related activities on the water should be developed alongside activities on land; people are particularly attracted to cycling and walking paths alongside waterways. Santee and Moncks Corner in particular are well positioned for new infrastructure, but any development should go hand-in-hand with careful consideration and planning with respect to protecting and preserving the natural resources of the waterways and the ecosystem of the surrounding region. Systems and programs should also be created to encourage, educate and empower community members in this development. Further, Santee Cooper has a relatively weak brand, so a comprehensive branding exercise is recommended, followed by consistency in communicating the new brand identity to potential visitors, residents, and key stakeholders within the region. Finally there is clearly a need for a comprehensive tourism/hospitality and customer service training program tailored to the Santee Cooper region. The full report can be downloaded at: http://sc.edu/study/colleges_schools/hrsm/research/research_centers/richardson_family_smartstate/research_publications/index.php

Friday, March 27, 2015

Cheers to the Center

Yesterday was a proud day for the SmartState Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development. Karen Thal, the first PhD candidate to enter the Center’s PhD program has defended her thesis. Karen came to the Center in 2012 from the College of Charleston as a PhD candidate. Her research focus has been on wellness tourism combined with self-determination theory. Today she successfully defended her thesis on ‘How wellness facilities contribute to wellbeing.’ Congratulations Karen! But there’s more to celebrate. Director and endowed chair, Dr. Simon Hudson, received the distinguished Patricia G. Moody Researcher of the Year award. This award recognizes faculty who have excelled in their research discipline and have substantively contributed to the research base. Way to go, Dr. Hudson!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Royal Green Farms Grand Opening

Dr. Hudson attended the Grand Opening and ceremonial ribbon cutting for Royal Greens Farm in Ridgeway, South Carolina on March 19th, 2015. Royal Greens is the largest indoor, wholesale hydroponic farm in South Carolina. Royal Greens has evolved from Jah Roots, the first incubator company supported by the SmartState Center. Royal Greens will produce a variety of specialty lettuce mixes, kales, herbs and tomatoes. The site will also house a public retail section that will offer locally produced jams, jellies, relishes and promote local art. Royal Greens promises to make a positive impact on the community by creating approximately 500 jobs and contributing to the revitalization of downtown Ridgeway. For more information about Royal Green, visit their website at: www.royalgreens.biz