ARC is hitting the road to further showcase the five goals of our 2022-2026 strategic plan – Appalachia Envisioned – and stop #3 on the roadshow will focus on building Appalachian businesses. This event will feature governors, business development leaders, and community members from South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi sharing their experiences strengthening and diversifying the Region’s economy through inclusive economic development strategies and investments in entrepreneurship and business development.
Strengthening and Growing Appalachia’s Businesses
Mayor Terence Roberts welcomes us to Anderson, South Carolina for an engaging opening session featuring a discussion about the Region’s investments in entrepreneurship and business development with ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster.
Gayle Conelly Manchin was sworn in as the Appalachian Regional Commission’s thirteenth federal co-chair on May 6, 2021, becoming the first ARC federal co-chair from West Virginia. Nominated by President Biden, Manchin works directly with ARC’s 13 member governors, their state alternates and program managers, and a network of local development districts to continue to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth throughout Appalachia. An alumna of West Virginia University, Manchin worked as an educator in Marion County Schools, served on the faculty of Fairmont State University, and was the director of the university’s first Community Service Learning Program. She directed the AmeriCorps Promise Fellows in West Virginia between 2000-2004 and implemented a statewide initiative, WV Partnerships to Assure Student Success. Manchin previously served as West Virginia’s First Lady between 2005-2010 and was appointed to serve as a member of the State Board of Education, serving her last two years as president. She was the chair of the Board for Reconnecting McDowell, Inc., an AFT initiative serving rural West Virginia, is a past president of the Vandalia Rotary Club of Charleston, and was an emeritus member of The Education Alliance. She also served as cabinet secretary for the West Virginia Office of Education and the Arts.
A native of Richland County, South Carolina, Governor McMaster received both his bachelor’s degree and his law degree from the University of South Carolina. After law school, he served as legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond and then began his almost-30-year career practicing law, both in private practice and as a federal prosecutor. He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve as United States attorney for the District of South Carolina from 1981 until 1985. In 1991, McMaster was appointed by Governor Carroll Campbell to serve on the state’s Commission on Higher Education. He was elected chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party in 1993 and was subsequently re-elected by the Republican state convention in 1996, 1998, and 2000. McMaster was elected South Carolina’s attorney general in 2002. Reelected in 2006, he held that office until 2011. He was elected lieutenant governor in 2014 and served in that role until he became South Carolina’s 117th governor in January 2017.
Mayor Terence V. Roberts is an Anderson native who has been in the forefront of the business and public service community for more than 30 years. He has been recognized for his leadership, community service and passion for education – particularly during the school readiness years. As a business advocate, the Mayor has worked with the City Council to establish public/private partnerships to revitalize downtown leading to the current period of sustained economic growth. His tenure has brought many new restaurants and businesses to Anderson’s core including the multi-million-dollar hotel, Home2Suites by Hilton. With a focus on infrastructure, greenspaces and public art, his leadership has helped make downtown an attractive place for regional commerce. Carolina Wren Park, located in the heart of downtown, has become a destination bringing thousands of new visitors – and business patrons – to Anderson. Church Street Heritage Plaza has brought national and regional recognition to Anderson as an educational and inspirational pocket park.
Investing in Entrepreneurship and Business Development
This community-focused session will kick off with a video highlighting entrepreneurship and business incubation in Appalachian South Carolina. A panel of experts from South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi will also share their experiences and successes on the frontlines of this critical work building Main Street businesses and industry clusters in the Region.
Mieka Sanderson is a Program Manager in the Division of Business and Workforce Investment at the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), an economic development agency improving economic prosperity in the Appalachian Region through strategic investments and research. Focused on business development, she co-leads the strategy that strengthens the Appalachian entrepreneurial ecosystem which includes supporting startups, scaling businesses and enhancing local and regional food systems development.
Sandy Headley brings more than 20 years of banking experience to her role as Vice President of ACE. She is responsible for the organization’s large commercial lending and advocacy work. Headley directed the ACE lending team as Chief Lending Officer from 2007 to 2016. Her natural sales ability and passion for ACE’s mission has led the organization to deploy more than $130 million to 2000+ small businesses, creating or saving more than 14,000+ jobs. She was instrumental in developing multiple ACE financial products/programs and expanding the organization’s service area into Atlanta and Norcross. Prior to joining ACE, Headley held various roles in banking over her career, including Vice President at SunTrust Bank. She sits on the board for Capital Partners Certified Development Company and is a member of the Green Chamber of the South Foundation Board. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Central Florida.
Liz Ordiales is the Mayor of the City of Hiawassee. She was elected Mayor after serving on the City Council for 1.5 years and as Mayor Pro temp, during that time. She is in the 2nd year of a second 4-year term. As Mayor of the City of Hiawassee, she serves as the CEO of the City. Liz oversees the day to day operations of all City departments such as Water, Wastewater, Public safety, Business development, etc. She represents the City as the GMA District 2, Board member of the UGA Carl Vinson Institute of Government, Board member of the Georgia Mountain Regional Commission, to name a few organizations. Liz is the first Cuban-American Mayor in the State of Georgia. She enjoys travel, photography and mostly all college sports. She was born in Havana, Cuba and has resided in Georgia since 1984. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from St. Thomas University in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
Mary Haley Thompson is the Director of Strategic Projects for the City of Anderson in South Carolina. She has 10 years of industry experience with specific focus in areas including economic and community development, real estate development, entrepreneurial programming, business recruitment and retention, grant writing, and long-range planning. During her time with the City of Anderson, Mary Haley spearheaded over 20 new business development programs that resulted in a surge of new and expanding business announcements in and around the downtown area. She also helped pursue and manage two major business incubator facilities, one being Anderson’s first shared kitchen incubator for food entrepreneurs. In addition to her local government experience in South Carolina, Mary Haley has worked in a development role with the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. She has also served in a consulting role for Main Street communities in South Carolina and Florida. Mary Haley is a graduate of Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC.
Brian Davis is the Director of the Alabama International Trade Center (AITC) at The University of Alabama, where he oversees its export research, training, and finance services. Brian also serves as the project director for the Alabama Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network at The University of Alabama, a partnership program with the U.S. Small Business Administration, higher education institutions in Alabama, and the State of Alabama. He has over 30 years of experience in international trade consulting and research projects. Brian received a Master’s Degree in Latin American Studies from The University of Alabama and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Intercultural Studies from the University of Montevallo.
Donny Jones is the Chief Operations Officer for the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and the Executive Director for West Alabama Works. He is responsible for the daily operations of the Chamber, including financial management and information technology, and manages the contractual relationships with vendors and professional service providers. Donny is instrumental in ensuring that the regional workforce system leverages federal and state resources to develop and grow the necessary K-12 and adult training pipelines to support the current and future workforce. He is a former appointed member of the Governor’s Workforce Council and is currently an appointed member of the Alabama Workforce Board where he serves on the executive committee and chairs the State Innovation Committee, an appointed member of the Governor’s Career Technical Education Task Force to enhance CTE curriculum, an appointed officer for the Alabama Committee on Credentialing and Career Pathways and an appointed member of the Committee for Grade-Level Reading. The Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities awarded Donny the Public Service Award for West Alabama in 2019. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, Tuscaloosa Education Foundation, as well as other committees and boards. He is most known as the husband of Carla a 27-year educator and father to Carson (21) and Carter (15).
David Rumbarger has over 35 years of economic development/existing industry and chamber of commerce management. He has been involved in economic development at the state and local level and working with natural gas and electric utilities. Since 2000, David has served as president/CEO of the Community Development Foundation of Tupelo, Mississippi. Under his leadership, Tupelo/Lee County has experienced exceptional growth and diversification. Over the past decade, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Auto Parts Manufacturing Mississippi, Cooper Tire, General Atomics, Grammer, H.M. Richards, and Southern Motion, to name a few, have located to Tupelo/Lee County. These industries help comprise the 135 total projects won during the past ten years generating over 9.3 billion dollars in total capital investment. Recently, David has led is the creation of Lee County’s sixth and newest industrial park, The Hive. David graduated with a BS from Auburn University, holds a MS in Economic Development from the University of Southern Mississippi and an Advanced Management Certificate from Duke University. He and his wife Donna live in Tupelo. They have two children and a grandson.
Community Voices: Anderson and Greenville
Community members in Anderson and Greenville, South Carolina shared how they are launching and growing local business, attracting major companies to the area, and using ARC support build a more vibrant economy in Upstate South Carolina.