Jul. 12—Tom Hallman updated the Aiken Municipal Development Commission during its Monday meeting on his progress since being hired as a project manager last month.
Hallman, a former USC Aiken chancellor, was enlisted by the commission to engage Aiken residents and leaders in an effort to further the city's economic development goals.
Hallman said that since officially starting in the position at the beginning of July, he has been talking to people in the community and on the commission and he plans to continue that for at least the next 30 days.
The project manager referenced the AECOM Strategic Economic Development Action Plan, which is seen as a guide to improve Aiken and has been frequently discussed by the AMDC.
"Throughout the plan, (it) references engagement with our people beyond the membership of this committee," Hallman said.
He further noted that he wants this dialogue to be had with "a mixture of people that are in the development business and neighborhood associations."
"So far, it seems that folks are open to and enthusiastic about having more voices at the table," Hallman said.
This type of discussion is important, Hallman said, because he wants to ensure that when the commission's plans are further developed, "you've at least (diminished) the prospect that somebody will say, 'That's an inbred idea. You didn't talk to anyone outside of your circle to come to that conclusion.'"
Doug Slaughter, a member of the AMDC, voiced his agreement with Hallman's thoughts.
"I do think it's going to be important for us as we begin to develop projects, to make sure that there is a lot of community buy-in," Slaughter said.
The AMDC was established in 2019 to accelerate Aiken's growth projects and priorities.