Charleston affordable housingOn Monday, April 30, the Rural Resource Coalition of South Carolina (RRCSC) hosted a day-long conference in Santee, S.C., entitled “South Carolina’s Human and Natural Assets:  Growing our Rural Economies.” The conference sought to initiate a statewide dialogue, which leads to the development of a comprehensive, sustainable economic development plan for rural communities and wise stewardship of South Carolina’s land and water for future generations. Opening remarks were given by Congressman James E. Clyburn.

Michelle Mapp, CLF executive director, participated on a panel discussion with key stakeholders in rural economic development. “We must come together collectively, both the conservation community and the community development community, to address issues of housing in rural South Carolina. We must think differently about how we access and deploy capital to meet the needs of rural communities often plagued by higher rates of heirs’ property ownership. How do we empower these families who have lived on this land for hundreds of years to gain the economic benefits of their land while also protecting the land and providing a safe, decent and affordable place for them to call home? This is question that we must agree to answer.”

The mission of the RRCSC is to capitalize on South Carolina’s human and natural resources in order to improve the quality of life for all her citizens by promoting sustainable economic development in rural communities and wise stewardship of her land and water.

The RRCSC was formed when representatives from affordable housing, agriculture, community development, conservation, forestry, heirs’ property and tourism recognized the mutual need for sustainable economic development to leverage the abundance of natural and human resources in South Carolina’s rural areas.

The objective of the coalition is to offer viable alternatives that will encourage wealth creation from within: local food markets, conservation of working farms and forests, agricultural and heritage-based tourism, affordable housing, homegrown renewable energy and downstream markets for value-added agricultural and forestry products. Together, this emerging coalition represents the interests of hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians and nearly a third of our $164 billion annual economy.

The SC Community Loan Fund is one of 19 organizations on the RRCSC founding steering committee. The steering committee addresses and advances sustainable policies and works to generate support for rural communities in South Carolina.