December 8, 2017
Spotlight Article: Director of Public Policy & Military Affairs, Susan McPherson
Short Bio about Susan:
A native of Columbia and graduate of the University of South Carolina, Susan joined the Columbia Chamber after working in community relations/government affairs for International Paper for 28 years. She previously served on the Chamber Board of Directors, chaired the Issues Committee, and is a graduate of Leadership Columbia and Leadership Sumter.
On a day-to-day basis you’ll find Susan connecting businesses with the military communities of Fort Jackson, SC National Guard, and McEntire Joint National Guard Base.
Q: How long have you lived in Columbia?
A: I am a native of Columbia and grew up right outside of the main gate at Fort Jackson, attending Fort Jackson Elementary School.
Q: How long have you worked for the Columbia Chamber?
A: I have spent six years at the Chamber connecting our business community with our military community to ensure that we maintain our reputation as the most military friendly community.
Q: What does your role at the Columbia Chamber entail?
A: In addition to protecting our nation’s security and our personal freedoms, the military is a sizeable economic engine for our region. The military in SC represents a $24.1 economic contribution in Columbia. Fort Jackson, a national treasure, represents a $2 billion economic contribution; the SC National Guard represents $815 million; McEntire contributes $140 million; and military retirees and veterans equal $6.5 billion.
These bases compete with other locations for resources, which is why our support is critical – our goal is to provide a friendly atmosphere in a sound business setting that is competitive with others in terms of operational costs, quality of living, educational systems, and ease of mobility
Q: How does the Chamber support the Columbia military community?
A: The Chamber provides support for the military community through a variety of means. These include partnering with local, state, and federal government to ensure the business climate supports the best environment for the base; convening the quarterly Military Affairs Group meeting comprised of representatives from Fort Jackson, SC National Guard, McEntire, the Columbia Recruiting Battalion and Chamber Partners. Additionally, we participate in installation activities on base and maintain membership in the AUSA and the USO, which actively support military members and their families.
Q: How can Chamber Partners help support the military community?
A: Chamber Partners absolutely can and do support the military and are a major reason why we can proudly proclaim “we are the most military friendly community in America”.
Recently, two Partners donated monetary grants to the USO. AT&T awarded a $30,000 grant to support the USO’s Operation Read and Feed program, a two-part program that services thousands of deploying service members each year. To learn more about that, click HERE.
Dominion Energy Carolina Gas Transmission awarded a $50,000 grant to support holiday activities and pre-deployment family lunches. To learn more, click HERE.
Q: What is one of your favorite parts of your job?
A: Part of the Columbia Chamber’s promise is to connect people with opportunities. This past Veterans Day, I was blessed to be in a situation where I could use my contacts to unite two people whose paths crossed over 40 years ago through a POW bracelet. In working to honor the POW, Jack Van Loan, during the City of Columbia Veterans Day Parade, we were able to introduce Col. Van Loan to Pam Williams who wore his POW bracelet during the Vietnam War. It was quite an honor to connect all the pieces and the result was a heartwarming story that was shared by many and will be remembered for years to come. Please read more about this amazing story, HERE.
Q: What are some of your favorite things to do or places to go in Columbia?
A: I love spending time with family and friends at the Riverwalk, Lake Murray, Riverbanks Zoo and outdoor events. Main Street is a vibrant fun place to be too!