ROCK HILL, S.C. — Clinton College, a historically Black college founded in 1894, is now leading an effort to bring the economic growth flowing into Rock Hill to the southern portion of the city.
“If you speak to anyone that grew up on the south side, they’ll say we haven’t had anything new in this part of town in probably 25 or 30 years,” said Rock Hill Councilmember Nikita Jackson, who also grew up on the south side of Rock Hill.
Clinton College is in the heart of the southern portion of Rock Hill, which is home to many historic Black neighborhoods. Clinton CoNEXTion is an effort led by Clinton College, along with several city leaders and business partners.
As major growth -- including the Panthers' new Training Facility -- comes to Rock Hill, leaders want the southside of the city included.
“There’s a pattern in the United States of urban growth and development that leaves people out,” said Lester McCorn, President of Clinton College, “We’re really trying to build bridges for people to have access to affordable housing, to jobs, to education.”
Jackson is also a member of Clinton CoNEXTion. She says the group has been working for the last 18 months on different ideas and concepts to see what kind of growth would benefit the citizens. Her main goal is to address to main issues first.
“We are in a food desert," Jackson said. "We are in an area of health disparities."
Steps are already being taken to address the health disparities highlighted by COVID-19 in Rock Hill. Clinton College received a $3.5 million grant to improve health services at the college and the neighborhoods which surround it.
McCorn says that Clinton CoNEXTion has a seat at tables where economic decisions are being made, and as it moves forward addressing issues, they won’t be placed on the backburner.
“There is an intentional, consistent effort to work with city officials,” McCorn said. “It is actually a central part of the natural development of Rock Hill’s growth.”