April 11, 2019

The Greater Columbia Region Named 2019 ‘Great American Defense Community’

The Greater Columbia Region  Named 2019 ‘Great American Defense Community’

Award recognizes communities that help improve the quality of life for service members and military families.


The Columbia Chamber is proud to announce that the Greater Columbia Region has been named as one of five communities across the United States to receive the honor of being designated as a 2019 Great American Defense Community.

The Great American Defense Communities program is designed to recognize the overall support that communities and regions in the U.S. provide to service members and military families. Communities are chosen through a competitive nomination process based on community building and integration, support and collaboration, educational and employment opportunities, and family support. The Columbia Chamber nominated the Greater Columbia Region based on programs and partnerships that enhance the community’s relationship with our military.

“Receiving the designation as a Great American Defense Community is a fitting tribute to the many business and community partners who work diligently to embrace the military men and women serving in the greater Columbia area,” said Carl Blackstone, President and CEO, Columbia Chamber.  “The large military presence in our community, namely Fort Jackson the largest initial training base in the US Army, the SC National Guard and McEntire JNGB, provide unique opportunities for organizations and individuals to offer support to our service members, their families and the veterans who live and serve in our community.”

Numerous organizations and individuals support the military members, their families, retirees and veterans in the Greater Columbia region and take great pride in being one of the most military friendly communities in America who provide value to our service members.  Since its inception over 100 years ago, Fort Jackson has trained over 5 million soldiers to serve our country.  There are over 81,000 veterans, 16,000 retirees, and over 40,000 employee jobs provided by our military community. 

There are numerous entities that support the military in Columbia. Five programs were recognized as helping the Greater Columbia Region earn the distinguished 2019 Great American Defense Community Award.  They are the Columbia Chamber’s Military Outreach Group (MOG), WIS-TV’s Year of the Veteran Series, Fort Jackson Education Student Ambassador Program in conjunction with Richland School District Two, Fort Jackson Spousal Employment Program, and the University of South Carolina Veterans Outreach program.

“We are very excited and humbled that the Columbia Region has received this national recognition,” remarked Dan Beatty, Chairman of the Columbia Chamber Military Outreach Group and SC Military Base Task Force Board Member, “The GADC Award is the gold standard by which a community is acknowledged for its superb relationship with military partners.” 

“Defined by a mission of force and family, readiness and resilience, America’s defense communities are the foundation of our military’s strength, “ADC President Bill Parry said. “The communities we recognize through the Great American Defense Communities program represent the best examples of what communities can do to create great places for our military families to live and work.  We congratulate the Columbia-Greater Midlands region and look forward to sharing your story with the nation.”

The 2019 class also includes Bay County, Florida, the home to Tyndall AFB; Clovis, New Mexico, the community near Cannon AFB; Middle Georgia region around Robins AFB; and The North Country, New York (Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties), the home to Fort Drum.

This year’s selected communities will be honored throughout the year, including at the Defense Communities National Summit in Washington, D.C., in June 2019.

The Chamber will hosted a Celebration Breakfast on Wednesday, May 22, 2019.  View photos HERE.


About the Columbia Chamber

The Columbia Chamber is a private, non-profit, partner-driven organization comprised of 1,500 business enterprises, civic organizations, educational institutions and individuals in Calhoun, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Newberry and Richland counties. The Columbia Chamber serves as the voice of its partners and the business community at large on matters of economic, educational, social, cultural and political concern, as well as supports and promotes the success of its partners through networking, professional development, advocacy and leadership. The organization has represented the interests of the local business community since 1902.

To become a partner or to learn more about the Columbia Chamber, as well as its events, programs and initiatives, visit


About Great American Defense Communities

The Great American Defense Communities initiative was launched in 2015 in association with the Defense Communities Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

The inaugural class, honored in 2016, included Colorado Springs, Colo.; the Dayton, Ohio, region; the Eglin-Hurlburt, Fla., community; the Flint Hills, Kan., region; the Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., region; Grand Forks, N.D.; Lawton, Okla.; Monterey, Calif.; and South Puget Sound, Wash.

The 2017 class included the Alamo – San Antonio, Texas, region; the Charleston, S.C., region; Christian Co., Ky.; the Fort Hood – Central Texas region; Goldsboro, N.C.; the Hampton Roads, Va., region; Sierra Vista, Ariz.; the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments; and West Valley Partners in Arizona.

The 2018 class also included Chesapeake Science & Security Corridor, near Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland; the Greater Fort Knox region in Kentucky; the San Diego region; and the South Georgia region, home to Moody Air Force Base.

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