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November 7th, 2022
By Andrea Cooper
We are proud to share with you the latest issue of the Upstate Advocate, our twice-yearly print publication. Below, read the letter from Executive Director Andrea Cooper introducing the Fall/Winter 2022-2023 issue which explores ways Upstate South Carolina can find balance between conservation and economic development in this era of robust growth.
People are sometimes surprised by my background in business and commercial real estate. Conservationists and business leaders are frequently portrayed as at odds with one another. However, leaders in business are often also leaders in conservation.
My background provides a basis to understand the motivations and incentives that drive business, as well as the understanding that conservation and sound land planning policies have high returns for communities. The economic impacts of conservation are huge, lasting, and sustainable, and they contribute to the overall quality of life that draws tourists and new residents alike.
As we all know, the Upstate is growing. Unfortunately, the same growth that brings new neighbors, jobs, and opportunities is also leading to sprawl, water quality issues, loss of open space and prime farmland, and gentrification. There is a better way to grow, and it means finding balance.
We must work collaboratively to balance economic development with other community priorities, such as ample greenspace and trees, clean water, working farmlands, affordable housing, mobility options, and more equitable outcomes for all Upstate residents. When we strike that balance, great things happen. Health outcomes, property values, economic mobility, and general quality of life improve.
Working with private landowners and public funding sources to improve the quality of life in the Upstate requires UF to have a foot in both the conservation and business worlds. In this issue of the Upstate Advocate, we’re looking at ways that conservation and economic development go hand in hand — from watershed protection and smart land policy to clean energy and innovative funding.
We have stories from landowners who run successful businesses on their conserved properties, and perspectives from leaders who understand the importance of natural resources and greenspace when it comes to attracting and retaining talented employees.
We cannot do any of our important work alone. It will take the entire community — business leaders, elected officials, farmers, neighborhood groups, nonprofits, and more — to strike a balance that protects what is so special about the Upstate.
Your support is essential to this critical work, and we thank you!