County Administrator Chappell Hurst says Pickens County made some strides in the right direction last year, and he believes it was done the right way.
“We had the biggest economic development year in the history of Pickens County,” said Hurst. “We’re being very successful in our creation of jobs, and we are second (only to Greenville) in our unemployment rate, which speaks volumes.”
Hurst says the county saw major growth, and believes the council did everything in their power to help.
“We didn’t pass any ordinances that restricted citizen’s freedoms,” said Hurst. “I think that is important because most governments are passing laws continuously that limit citizen’s freedoms. We’ve tried to make it a policy to not do that. That is one of the things that separates Pickens County from some of the other counties in the state.”
The County Administrator says paying attention to local taxes was a huge goal last year.
“We didn’t pass any new taxes. Pickens County ranks 44th out of 46 counties in per capita revenues that we collect,” said Hurst. ”This speaks volumes about how efficient we try to run this government, and how we try to not place a financial burden on our citizens. This allows them to function in a way that doesn’t put them out of business.”
Hurst says the local government has made a conscious effort to be more efficient as of late.
“We have continued to balance our budgets while continuing to build funds so we don’t have to borrow money,” said Hurst. “We have cut over 65 jobs in the last four years. We have combined, reorganized, and restructured top to bottom so that we are a much leaner organization.”
With five new industries coming to Pickens County this year, a lot will have to be done to prepare.
“We’ve developed a new strategic plan, and programs to address lay-offs when they do occur so we can retain the best workers here in Pickens County,” said Hurst. “We can help our (five) new industries find the appropriate worker with the appropriate training. In other words, we have developed a talent pool for them to draw from. We have focused more on our exiting industries to show that we appreciate them.”
Hurst says making all of these improvements in a down economy required some serious discipline.
“By making our government more efficient, we improved our credit rating to a double-A which is the highest it has ever been in Pickens County,” said Hurst. “This was during a recessionary period, without raising taxes.”
Most of all, Hurst boasts that the County government is doing everything they can to create a better relationship with the people of Pickens County.
“We are listening to citizens,” said Hurst. “We pay attention to what people say and try to respond to their comments.”