Graham praises Lake City’s ‘incredible transformation’

April 26, 2019

LAKE CITY, S.C. – U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday that Lake City is on the map in a way that no one could have envisioned 10 years ago.

“And I’m just blown away at what you’ve been able to do,” Graham said. “It’s just an incredible transformation.”

Graham was one of nine speakers Wednesday at the Greater Lake City Business Symposium hosted by The Darla Moore Foundation at The Bean Market.

Representatives from the foundation, The Continuum, Florence-Darlington Technical College, Francis Marion University, the city of Lake City, Visit Lake City SC and the state spoke about how their organizations are contributing to the growth of Lake City.

Graham said the transformation taking place in Lake City takes both leadership and buy-in.

“How many of you believe we would be here today without Darla Moore?” Graham asked the crowd.

No one raised a hand.

“How many believe she couldn’t do it by herself?” he asked.

A few people raised their hands.

“So my goal, Darla, is to get as many businesses in this part of South Carolina understanding that there’s something new going on in Lake City and that the workforce training program that y’all are envisioning through The Continuum – if we can replicate that, if we can get all of our universities and technical schools doing what you’re doing here, oh my God,” Graham said. “This is single most exciting thing I’ve seen in the state of south Carolina for workforce development in rural areas.”

Graham said The Continuum, a regional center for education and training that will open in August, is a big thing. The program is a partnership between The Darla Moore Foundation, Francis Marion University and Florence-Darlington Technical College. Students will be afforded the opportunity for training in innovative and technical skills and workforce development.

“We may not have a Darla Moore in every community, but there’s enough people that could create a foundation to provide what she provides,” Graham said. “If you get the colleges and technical schools working the way you are with modern infrastructure, the sky is the limit.”

Moore said she is asked all of the time why she lives in Lake City. She said she attributes the level of success she has had to where she is from. She said she think it is the roots, the water and the value system.

For many years, Moore said, she was accused of “prettying up the town.” And that was her decision. But it was all part of a 30- to 40-year project.

“We are now moving into the second decade of our 30- or 40-year strategic plan,” Moore said. “We’ve got to expand and diversify this economy. We know that. We know we’ve got to have the workforce. We know we’ve got to have that for the region. But we’ve got to have that for the state. It’s serious, serious issues with regards to workforce.”

Moore said the foundation has the privilege of having Francis Marion University President Fred Carter and Florence-Darlington Technical College interim President Ed Bethea working with it for The Continuum.

“I think this is a model,” she said. “It’s going to be a statewide model and possibly a national model of how you deliver education and workforce training on a different platform.”