The Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce is laying the groundwork for future economic growth.

The establishment of an urban ecology center, a recently announced collaboration between the Chamber, Clemson University and a number of local organizations, should hopefully help to put Aiken on the center stage in our state and produce local manufacturing and tech jobs in the future.

According to local Chamber President and CEO J. David Jameson, no public money was given to attract the university. However, because there was the possibility of competition for the site, the Chamber offered available office space for up to two years. Such inducements are what Chambers are supposed to do – help generate the right economic environment to get businesses off the ground.

This collaboration is one of several projects the Chamber has helped to give legs to over the course of the second half of this year. In August, the organization announced The Mill on Park – a new office community intended to help startup companies. It also announced a collaboration between Aiken Technical College and nearby Midland Valley Preparatory Charter School to help eighth-graders explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Such projects help to show that, through collaboration, different community resources can come together and create benefits that likely wouldn’t be produced by a single entity.

The urban ecology center, designed around producing state-of-the-art technology for sustainability-based research and real-world application, can attract officials from the state and federal government as well as private investors. Those individuals will stay in our hotels during meetings and conferences, eat at our restaurants and spend money at our shops.

Those are benefits that ripple throughout a community and help to ensure our city stays viable. These kinds of initiatives should be viewed as local seeds that can develop into long-term, global projects capable of putting a significant spotlight on Aiken.