Awards Stack Up for Rock Hill Economic Development Efforts

WASHINGTON, DC (Sept. 27, 2017) - The City of Rock Hill and the Rock Hill Economic Development Corporation (RHEDC) won several Gold Excellence in Economic Development Awards from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), as well as multiple Communications Awards from the Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC).

From IEDC, Gold awards were presented for Riverwalk: Public Private Partnership Creates a Dynamic Community after the Demise of Textiles, JobsRockHill.com, and the Economic & Urban Development department’s Talent Connection Advertising Campaign, launched in January 2017.

The IEDC honors were presented at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 19, during the IEDC Annual Conference, which was held Sept. 17 - 20, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

“On behalf of the IEDC board of directors and Excellence in Economic Development Awards Advisory Committee, congratulations to the City of Rock Hill. Not only did they work to provide a necessary service to their community; but also, their participation in the awards program sheds light on their stellar projects which other communities can now use as a benchmark.” - Michael Langley, FM, CEO of GREATER MSP, Minneapolis–St. Paul, MN, and 2017 IEDC Board Chair

Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols congratulated the City’s Economic and Urban Development staff for the awards: “We’ve known for a long time that the City’s economic development programs are among the very best in the country. Now, the premier professional economic development organizations in the region and the world have recognized that excellence too.”

Riverwalk: Public Private Partnership

Rock Hill, SC prospered with the textile industry for a century. After the demise of textiles, Rock Hill pursued a new economic base and sought to overcome millions of square feet of empty textile factories. Riverwalk is a project that succeeded on both fronts: creating a 21st century economic base for the community by redeveloping a vacant, environmentally tainted textile site. In 2005, Assured Administration purchased the sprawling Celanese Plant site, landfills, and two hazardous waste management units regulated by EPA. The entire 1,000 acres was located just outside the City of Rock Hill. The developer took responsibility for remediation of environmental conditions. From 2005 to 2007, Assured invested $40 million in demolition/remediation. Assured and the City worked for two years to negotiate a financing agreement that would allow the project to start during the depths of the Great Recession. The parties collaborated in the design, construction and financing of the $431 million Riverwalk project, resulting in $338 million invested and 869 jobs (thus far), $20 million in annual sports tourism economic impact, and an unprecedented array of public recreation amenities.

Talent Connection Advertising Campaign

Rock Hill’s Talent Connection campaign sought to bring awareness to the availability of a talented workforce in the community, as well as the many available job opportunities offered by local companies. Through a combination of digital marketing, media appearances, social media engagement, and print advertising—as well as an extensive billboard and radio campaign targeted at the more than 50,000 commuters that drove across state lines into Charlotte every day—the campaign had an estimated reach of over 37 million impressions in just 6 months. As a result, the complementary website to the campaign, JobsRockHill.com, has seen close to 17,000 unique visitors, 3,000 job applicant sign-ups, and 500 job postings.

JobsRockHill.com: Special Purpose Website

JobsRockHill.com is a resource for businesses and job seekers to connect locally, without competition from the nearby metropolitan market of Charlotte, North Carolina. On this site, companies in York County can showcase their knowledge-economy job openings to an audience eager to work closer to their own community. In the first six months after the site’s launch, more than 3,000 applicants and companies have signed up and over 500 jobs have been posted. “The awards process is a thorough, non-biased and multi-layered process. These are extraordinary accomplishments for all winners, and an overall great effort by all participants. We look forward to next year’s awards competition,” Langley said.

About the International Economic Development Council

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 5,000 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities, by creating, retaining and expa

nding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, IEDC’s members are engaged in the full range of economic development experience. Given the breadth of economic development work, our members are employed in a wide variety of settings including local, state, provincial and federal governments, public-private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities and a variety of other institutions. Among many activities which benefit the economy, IEDC’s members create high-quality jobs and develop vibrant communities. www.iedcONLINE.org.

SEDC also honored the City of Rock Hill for the following five projects at their annual conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, in August:

  • Special Supplement in the Charlotte Business Journal: Award of Excellent

  • Talent Attraction Billboards: Award of Merit

  • Talent Connection Marketing Campaign: Award of Superior

  • Only In Old Town Website: Award of Superior

  • Jobs Rock Hill Website: Award of Superior

Pictured: Economic & Urban Development Staff (Left to Right) David Lawrence, Hannah Spruill, Stephen Turner (Director), Cathy Murphy, Rick Norwood