When I tell some of my constituents about NESA and my role with them, the response I most often get is, “What is NESA?”
I often find it hard to believe that the economic development organization founded nearly 10 years ago is so sparsely known throughout the area.
If you’re reading this, you should know what NESA, also known as The North Eastern Strategic Alliance, is, because, whether you know it or not, it’s helping people in the area get back to work through a variety of means.
From as far west as Pageland and as far east as Myrtle Beach and Georgetown, the scope of NESA’s service territory is comprised of nine counties, each with their own special ingredient to add to the region.
Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Marlboro, Marion and Williamsburg counties all fall under the umbrella of the NESA region, which means we’ve got a lot of ground to cover.
Throughout those nine counties, there’s a lot of work that we do in terms of regional economic development, marketing and fundraising.
For a moment, though, let’s take a look back at the way things were before NESA came around.
Imagine two neighboring counties are competing for an industry that will locate 1,000 high-paying jobs. Those two counties will do whatever they can to get that business, which means undercutting prices, undercutting their competitor and lessening their chances of creating a unified business environment throughout the region.
What could happen would be the imaginary company would just as soon locate to Georgia, North Carolina or any other state that could present a unified vision of economic cooperation.
That’s the way things were before NESA came around.
NESA takes the advantages each county has to offer, whether it’s work force, transportation, land, or just a can-do attitude, and blends them into a more appetizing proposition for expanding and new businesses. NESA markets the assets of the region both nationally and internationally.
One thing businesses don’t typically take into consideration when locating a business is the location of county lines or even state lines. That is, there is no concern put forth over whether it’s any county in North Carolina, South Carolina or Georgia. Just as long as the selected location fits its needs, that’s where it will go. As a result, NESA takes a look at the region as a whole and helps facilitate collaboration and economic development at the local, regional and state level to win projects.
Now, if the imaginary company is taking a look at the two counties, NESA will listen to their needs (work force, a specific building, access to an interstate, etc.) and produce a business plan that not only fits their needs, but fits them into the region as well. NESA has the ability to provide specific information for potential businesses so that they make a good business decision and decide that a location within the NESA region makes sense.
That’s why I feel NESA’s work is very important to the region.
Throughout the nation and especially the state, the word “unemployment” is on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but with announcements from Johnson Controls to BauschLinnemann, NESA has had a hand in many of the region’s major job creation events in the past decade.
Chasing down leads, researching possible locations for expansion, meeting with business executives on behalf of the region and working with legislators like myself are all a part of the toolkit NESA brings to the table.
While there are still going to be those that question who, what, where and why “NESA” is, there’s a story about the region and about the organization that needs to and will be told.
Sen. McGill, a Democrat who represents Berkeley, Florence, Georgetown, Williamsburg and Horry counties, is the chairman of the executive board of the North Eastern Strategic Alliance.