When South Carolina was struck with historic flooding, Georgetown was among the several communities that were severely affected.
In what was referred to as a 1,000-year storm, Georgetown residents saw devastation — but they also witnessed heroism and immense acts of generosity.
“We’ve all heard stories of rescues from flooded homes. We’ve heard about the volunteers who helped man shelters. We’ve heard stories of neighbors pitching in to clean up homes and businesses trashed by Mother Nature’s unforgiving onslaught. We’ve heard stories of heroes and prayers answered,” the Georgetown Times wrote in an October 7 editorial that praised emergency responders for their hard work and sacrifices.
Despite the hardships and sorrow endured during and in the aftermath of the storm, the Georgetown community remains committed to rebuilding stronger than ever.
“The rain clouds are slowly disappearing, and the sun will shine again. Yet there is still work to be done, lives to rebuild. It will take our whole community to come together,” the Georgetown Times wrote, echoing the community’s hope for tomorrow.
While Georgetown is in the national headlines for the destructive weather it has withstood, it is much more widely known across the country for the beautiful weather its summers bring every year.
It’s been named a “Top 10 Summer Sports Mecca” by National Geographic Adventure, and nearby Pawleys Island was listed as one of the best summer trips in the world by National Geographic Travel.
“As the popularity of the area as a tourism destination continues to grow, the effect on brick-and-mortar establishments, business owners and residents in our area is very apparent,” says Jason Greene, president and executive director of Grand Strand Technology Council.
The city has done exceptionally well to capitalize on its tourism potential, and local leaders are pushing forward with efforts to diversify the economy to bring year-round prosperity to this summer paradise.
However, the work hasn’t been without adversity — and the flooding is just the latest challenge.
Georgetown’s downtown was devastated by a severe fire in September 2013. The tragedy destroyed multiple businesses and caused millions of dollars in damage.
The town took another hit when the Steel Mill closed. Over 200 people lost their jobs. It was an enormous setback for the small community.
Many cities would crumble under such extreme circumstances — but not Georgetown. Instead, residents have relied on their grit and character to trigger ingenuity and innovation.
“The first StartUp Weekend in South Carolina was set to take place in Georgetown, just two days after the fire,” Greene said. “The venue where the event was to be held was completely destroyed — but the community rallied behind the importance of the event for Georgetown, found the right resources, and pulled off a successful event.”
This kind of resilience has been a part of Georgetown’s way of life, especially now as the community takes steps to rebuild its neighborhoods and economy stronger than they’ve ever been.
With support America’s Best Communities, the city, led by the Grand Strand Technology Council and StartUp.SC, is pursuing a vision for high-tech revitalization. The focus is on technology-based entrepreneurial opportunities that can bolster the economy.
“We see a community that has the right mix of resources to support the development of ideas into tangible technology-driven businesses,” Greene said. “This will require the development of a technology ecosystem forming partnerships among local economic development officials, educational institutions, business leaders, entrepreneurs, mentors, and private donors.”
“Technology-related entrepreneurism provides an amazing balance to our existing industry and our tourism economy,” said Georgetown Director of Economic Development Brian Tucker. “We believe that our community is ideally positioned to grow technology startups, and StartUp.SC is the perfect group to maximize our chances of leveraging technology and encouraging entrepreneurism.”
As the Georgetown Times said, there’s work to be done — and the entire community will need to come together. But the sun is about to shine brighter than ever on Georgetown, South Carolina.