Economic And Community Development

Current Research        

Research is being conducted on the potential of educational attainment, a positive business climate and increased investment capacity to improve economic development in South Carolina. The goal is to analyze the factors that affect educational attainment and investment, and develop a model for South Carolina to emphasize the role of education and investment as sources of economic development.
Researchers are seeking ways that rural communities can benefit from industry cluster development that tends to take place in or near metropolitan areas. The value of innovative activities in rural areas, such as university towns, government and research centers, will be considered as an attractant for entrepreneurship, and new start-up firms. 
Researchers are evaluating the effects of changes in economic structure in South Carolina, including new technology-based means of producing and marketing products, and efforts that support local business startups. The critical role of workforce development in rural areas is also being evaluated. It is anticipated that results of this research will suggest policies that program planners and policymakers can use to strengthen regional economies in the state.  Emphasis will be on rural areas, including beneficial rural-urban linkages and a focus on new technologies.
The ability to trace consumer products back to production origins is becoming an important marketing and food safety issue. Research is underway to identify potential barriers to adoption of tracing systems at the farm level, with particular attention to small-scale producers.
Researchers are analyzing the relative costs and benefits to producers and consumers of government- and industry-led marketing and policy programs, such as certifications, country of origin labeling and farmers markets.
Broadband availability is viewed as an essential ingredient for economic success in rural communities. An initial step for small towns and rural communities is broadband planning and incorporating this technology in both comprehensive land use and economic development plans. Researchers are working to develop models that will facilitate this process at the local level.


Currently, a highly toxic antifouling coating dominates the world market to protect marine ship hulls from adhesion of oyster and barnacle larvae. Researchers have developed new test coatings that demonstrate the ability to deter the adhesion of both types of larvae, using a non-toxic naturally occurring compound. This research has the potential to place a new technology on the market and make a significant contribution to the environmental quality of the world’s seaways.    
Research is underway to investigate the biology, ecology, colony relatedness, geographic range and control of the invasive species Pachyondyla chinensis, the needle ant. The venom in the sting causes a broad range of allergic reactions from hives to anaphylactic shock. This species has been documented in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia, and unpublished records exist for Tennessee and Alabama. Research discovered that the ants prefer protein as a food source more than carbohydrate or lipids, which will be valuable in selecting bait products.