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Community Highlights

Dec. 12, 2017

South Carolina: Highlights From Aiken

Aiken, the largest city and county seat of Aiken County, is in the western portion of South Carolina, very close to the Georgia border in an area referred to as the Central Savannah River Area. The 20-mile distance between Aiken and the thriving city of Augusta, Georgia is what led to a roundtable discussion on affordable housing.

When the state of Georgia expanded its commitment to cybersecurity and invested $100 million in the Hull McKnight Georgia Cyber Center for Innovation and Training in nearby Augusta, Aiken saw the need and opportunity for transportation, affordable housing and the development of retail in close proximity to the facility. Georgia’s cybercenter is the single largest investment in a cybersecurity facility by a state government, and the public-private partnership between academia, state and federal governments, law enforcement, the U.S. Army and the private sector is a strategic effort to address the U.S. cybersecurity labor shortage. The center includes an incubator accelerator to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in the cybersecurity sector.

The proximity and affordability of Aiken positions the city to address residential and retail development in its city core to attract what is anticipated to be a younger workforce in the cybersecurity sector. A discussion between financial institutions, the city manager, the faith-based Community Development Corporation (CDC), the Aiken Corporation, and regional developers was led by Jeanne Milliken Bonds, senior manager of regional community development at the Richmond Fed, to focus on tools, including the Community Reinvestment Act, and mechanisms to fund new, affordable development.

“We have been holding affordable housing forums across North and South Carolina over the past several years in order to identify innovative approaches to addressing community needs,” said Bonds. “Aiken’s population of 30,000 is looking forward to next steps in downtown development with an eye toward mixed-use retail and housing with a range of affordability for renters and owners.”

A proposed larger forum on affordable housing will be held later in 2018.

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