Last updated: August 06. 2014 1:44PM - 238 Views

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LIBERTY — The Manufacturers Caring for Pickens County will be applying for 501(c)3 status, allowing it to solicit funds to be distributed to educational and social needs.

The group has welcomed new board member Jim Wanner, CEO of KeyMark Inc., in Liberty. KeyMark creates imaging and document storage and retrieval solutions for various markets. Wanner brings software expertise and a Clemson area perspective to the already diverse group.

The group has met with Dr. Todd Voss, president of Southern Wesleyan University, to explore strategic initiatives at the SWU campus. They also have met with Mike Batchelor, CEO of Baptist Easley Hospital, to explore common goals related to health care delivery in Pickens County.

On the educational front, the group reports that last spring, over 45 Guidance Counselors in the district toured the various members’ factories to learn more about job skills needed for the future. STEM family night and STEM “hands on” student tours of factories has also been added to the services the group offers the School District.

“I believe that helping students and families explore potential jobs and careers located right in our own backyard is a beginning step to building solid, exciting futures for Pickens County kids,” said Kelley Ponder, Guidance Counselor at Crosswell Elementary School.

The group is working with the Career Center on expanding the tours and also to provide expert advisory board members to the Center’s team of skilled career advisors.

“MCPC has provided a one-stop shop for bringing experienced manufacturers and business leaders into our classrooms,” said Ken Hitchcock, director of the Career Center. “We look forward to working with them in the future.”

The group also has donated funds to various social causes such as the Dream Center, the Samaritan Free Clinic, the Adaptive Sports Foundation, the Wounded Warrior Project, and Helping Hands of Clemson. The group recently assisted with securing bunk beds for the Dream Center.

Michael Fee, vice president and owner of Reliable Automatic Sprinkler, headed that initiative.

“It is in our mission statement to help improve the quality of life in Pickens County by providing basic needs where they are needed and previous funding was nonexistent,” Fee said.

The group is exploring placing 3D printers in the middle schools. That technology is now affordable and offers students a rewarding experience in exploring STEM skills in Engineering, Computer Aided Design (CAD), and other creative avenues.

“Start these kids off in fifth or sixth grade with exposure to 3D printing, and you’ll have young rocket scientists and inventors by the time they graduate,” said Tom O’Hanlan, chairman of MCPC.

MCPC has also facilitated the meeting between Clemson’s Computer science department and the school district. The goal is to have more computer classes in local schools.

“I am excited to work this group going forward to enhance our career training skills for this area,” said Dr. Danny Merck, superintendent of the School District of Pickens County. “SDPC welcomes strong business and industry connections.”

Manufacturers Caring For Pickens County, promotes economic development, quality education, and improved quality of life in Pickens County. Visit http://manufacturerscaringforpickens.com/index.html for more information.

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