South Carolina’s Councils of Governments perform a host of critical functions that positively affect quality of life and economic development throughout the state.
These programs include:
Each COG provides a broad range of planning expertise to local governments, including comprehensive planning, zoning and land use regulation, strategic planning, planning administration, economic and community development, historic preservation and community revitalization planning.
The COGs and the South Carolina Department of Transportation have entered into a long-term working relationship focused heavily on rural highway planning and project development and, in some cases, on urban transportation needs. COG Boards of Directors make recommendations to DOT and its commissioners regarding priorities for new highway improvements.
In 1998, the COGs began a long-term bonding program with SCDOT, leveraging millions of dollars in highway improvement funds, recommending road improvement priorities and administering the program at the regional level. This partnership brings transportation planning to the county and regional level, allowing for greater local input into improvement priorities which are updated annually.
The Workforce Development program offers comprehensive services designed to increase employment, retain jobs, develop occupational skills for unemployed and under employed workers, youths, persons with disabilities and veterans. Total workforce investments coming through the COGs over the years have totaled $148.5 million. More than 45,000 clients have been served, and over 28,000 South Carolinians have been placed in jobs through this program.
Most COGs operate or otherwise administer programs under the Older Americans Act. Funds under these programs are dispersed into the state and regional economic base and provide South Carolina’s elderly population with congregate and home-delivered meals, adult day care, health screenings, home health care, transportation to medical and other vital services, insurance counseling and a variety of other critically needed services.
State and Federal grants obtained through the COGs are used for a host of critical needs – infrastructure, community revitalization, downtown development, housing construction and rehabilitation, public safety, recreation, social services, education, historic preservation, energy conservation and environmental protection.
As facilitators, the COGs help develop projects, prepare applications, act as advocates, provide liaison with funding agencies and often administer the project funds after grants are awarded.
The COGs routinely provide Census and statistical data to agencies, organizations and individuals within their regions and beyond.
COG assistance is critical to citizens receiving the benefit of grants designed to enhance community development. The COGs and the South Carolina Department of Commerce have had a long-standing relationship relating to the state’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. At the local level, the COGs help with project and application development, ranking and grant administration. This is an especially useful service for smaller communities that do not have the internal capacity to prepare applications and administer grants.
The COGs also have assisted the South Carolina Department of Commerce with statewide water and sewer mapping and providing data bases on industrial sites and buildings and quality of life attributes.
Many South Carolina businesses benefit from COG Revolving Loan Funds which provide money for business expansion and new job creation. Many COGs also facilitate small business lending through one or more additional loan programs sponsored by the Small Business Administration or other federal or state agencies. These programs represent an important source of capital. Generally, these loans are made in partnership with banks and other private lenders when conventional loan terms may undermine the feasibility of the project.
Most COGs offer GIS computer mapping services, a powerful, high-tech, cost-efficient tool to help guide local land use policies for cities and counties. GIS mapping can help local governments answer a critical, up-front question: What will our area look like if present growth trends continue with no change in government policy? The ability to visually answer this question using GIS mapping is a key component in discussions about the future.
COG staff helps local governments develop and implement economic development strategies that will result in the creation of jobs and capital investment. COGs routinely utilize the financial resources of the Economic Development Administration to improve basic infrastructure to accommodate the needs new or expanding industry.
Many COGs are charged by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) with creating and maintaining regional water quality management plans. As part of that responsibility, the COGs review all applications requesting sewer discharge permits. These reviews, done to ensure compliance with the regional water quality plan, are necessary before DHEC will issue permits for new or expanded business, industry or residential development.
To view/download a full list of services provided by each COG, see link below.
The link is an Adobe PDF (.pdf).
List of Services.pdf