NEWBERRY — Rotary welcomed George Patrick III to discuss the economy and the workforce Friday afternoon.
Patrick is the deputy secretary for the South Carolina Department of Commerce but he is also a military veteran who served four year of active duty after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He came courtesy of Newberry Rotarian Scott Cain because they have served together.
He took the job in late January 2011 and he says, “We are not bureaucrats. I feel imminently qualified to be involved in economic development (because of that.)”
Patrick states that, “It (economic development) starts with the local community and comes up to the state level. We cannot do it without the local community.”
In discussing the state of the state, he emphasizes that he thinks the Southeast is poised for recovery and that South Carolina is in great shape.
“(South Carolina) is the leader in manufacturing. We’re good at making things,” said Patrick.
In fact, Patrick referenced a national publication that stated if people thought manufacturing was dead, they need only to go to South Carolina.
Workforce and product are two essential keys, among others, that are key to economic growth in the state.
“I think Newberry’s doing a great job with that (product),” said Patrick, “The Piedmont Tech. center is a great example of what you’re doing with creating a world-class training center.”
“Our technical school system is second to none across the country,” said Patrick, who also talked about Ready SC which is a system with the technical schools.
As for the business that the state and community has, “We need to take care of it and I think you are doing that.”
As for what the state is doing for small businesses, which Newberry has, Patrick says, “I found out we’re doing some good but not enough. We have partnered with federal and private businesses and are trying to coordinate efforts for small business.”
As for what tips he has for small business owners, he recommends, “Take what you are and labor with it. Don’t try to be what you aren’t.”
He also recommends to the community to “look at what you have in your areas. For example, it may be natural resources.”
He points out to work with the strengths that the local communities have. Whitmire is one community in which natural resources, such as the Tyger-Enoree River can be a great strength.
Patrick also says, “You can never have too much pride in your own community. Just keep doing what you are doing.”