County Officials Share Common Challenges, Opportunities During Counties Connect 2024

County officials from around the state gathered in Columbia this month for two days of education, collaboration and advocacy during Counties Connect 2024. This year’s event on Feb. 20-21 saw more than 150 participants who took part in Institute of Government classes, the Council Chairperson’s Workshop, Legislative Reception and Counties Connect: A Legislative Action Day.  

“We had a great turnout this year! It was wonderful to connect with so many county officials from around the state and to see them collaborate with each other on issues that affect many of our counties,” said South Carolina Association of Counties President Roy Costner III. “It was especially rewarding during our trip to the State House to see some of our county officials recognized on the Senate floor for the work they do for their constituents.” 

Counties Connect 2024 kicked off with a panel discussion featuring state Sens. Mike Johnson and Kevin Johnson and state Rep. Jermaine Johnson who offered updates on key issues like affordable housing and mental health care. The legislators also took questions from council officials in the audience on topics ranging from liquor liability to affordable childcare to funding for rural counties. 

Sen. Mike Johnson pointed out that many issues in the South Carolina legislature are not necessarily split along party lines, but rather are rural versus urban.  

“If we want to create economic development and grow our state, we have to think about the rural counties. Rural counties have to be ready when the growth gets there,” he said.  

Counties throughout the state are also facing workforce housing challenges. A panel discussion featuring Marni Holloway with SC Housing, Wendy Zara with the Beaufort Jasper Housing Trust and Greenville County Councilman Butch Kirven addressed these challenges and discussed potential solutions.  

The day wrapped with two engaging economic development presentations. SC Commerce’s Maceo Nance offered insights into what businesses look for when selecting sites, and Susie Shannon of the SC Council on Competitiveness covered industry clusters and workforce trends.  

See photos from the event in the photo gallery. Handouts from Institute classes and presentations from the Counties Connect meeting are available on as well.

Did you miss this year’s Counties Connect? Be sure to join us next year. Counties Connect 2025 will take place Feb. 19-20, 2025.