The Orangeburg County Development Commission has selected Merle Johnson as the new executive director for Orangeburg County, effective January 2023.
As an experienced economic developer, Johnson assumes the position previously held by Gregg Robinson, according to a news release from the development commission. He will begin the new role on Jan. 17, 2023.
Johnson has served as the director of Economic and Community Development for the city of Greenville since 2020, the release stated. As OCDC’s executive director, he will provide strategic leadership on complex economic development projects and issues; implement recruitment programs for new business and industry; and work with industry representatives to develop competitive incentive proposals for new projects, the release stated.
“On behalf of the Orangeburg County Administration, we are very pleased with the selection of the Search Committee and OCDC Board of Merle Johnson as our next Executive Director of the Orangeburg County Development Commission,” Harold M. Young, administrator for Orangeburg County, said in the release. “I am confident Mr. Johnson will be a tremendous asset to our community and take Orangeburg County to the next level. We envision a very bright future for both Mr. Johnson and our county.”
With more than 15 years of economic development experience, Johnson managed the city of Greenville’s economic development program and staff while driving expansion and relocation efforts for companies, new citizens to the city, and various economic development stakeholders, the release stated. He also helped relocate Kiyatec’s bio-tech headquarters to Greenville; Southern First Bank and United Community Bank headquarters; as well as other various expansion projects.
Johnson previously held the deputy director, director of operations, and director of Business Development positions with Charleston County Economic Development in North Charleston, the release stated. He also led project management efforts with the Charleston Regional Development Alliance for Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties.
Johnson will serve as the fifth appointed executive director for OCDC since its founding in 1959.
Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in math and computer science from the United States Coast Guard Academy; is a graduate of the Oklahoma University’s Economic Development Institute, a three-session advanced leadership program accredited by the International Economic Development Council; and is a Master Practitioner of the Advanced Economic Development Program (AEDL), a prestigious executive program designed specifically for mid to senior level economic developers, the release stated.
Orangeburg County Development Commission, founded in 1955, is one of the oldest economic development organizations in South Carolina, according to the release. OCDC is a recognized leader in economic development for capital investment and job creation in the Southeast.
“It is a very exciting day in Orangeburg County as we announce our new Executive Director for the Orangeburg County Development Commission, Merle Y. Johnson,” Johnnie Wright Sr., Orangeburg County Council chairman, said in the release. “There have only been only four former Executive Directors in the nearly seventy years of OCDC history and we look forward to Mr. Johnson building upon the many successes and extensive planning that is already in place. Merle is a natural selection for this role and this community and we are excited for the new opportunities ahead.”