This article from the November 2010 edition of South Carolina Business Magazine explores the history of Certified SC marketing campaign, its success and plans for the future. Chernoff Newman helped the South Carolina Department of Agriculture launch its Certified SC program in 2007 with the goal of creating a distinctive brand for South Carolina grown produce and products for consumers to identify easily. In just three short years, the program has expanded to include partnerships with retailers and restaurants, specialty foods, and the Palmettovore movement, which has engaged more than 5,000 South Carolinians via social media to make the pledge to eat locally grown foods. The success of the program has been documented with surveys showing that for every $1 spent on the initial program, the members augmented the effort with an additional $7 in promotion and publicity activities and materials. The Darla Moore School of Business also recently performed a study to evaluate the return on investment for the Certified SC Grown program. The research revealed that the program would provide over 10,000 new jobs and increase agriculture’s impact on the state’s economy by about $16 billion annually. Also, the research showed that the state would enjoy an additional total economic impact of $558.1 million because of the high consumption of locally grown produce and products buoyed by the Certified SC Grown campaign. This grassroots marketing campaign has motivated and activated South Carolina consumers to buy South Carolina grown products which, in turn, drives the demand for homegrown products and contributes to the overall economic progress of the state.
South Carolina’s modern agribusiness industry, which includes farming and forestry, has eclipsed manufacturing and tourism as South Carolina’s leading economic cluster, contributing $34 billion to the state’s economy. These findings are evidence that SC’s oldest industry is modernizing itself and showing enormous growth potential for SC’s future economy. By placing focused effort on moving our state’s agribusiness industry from good to great, the SC Department of Agriculture has set a goal of generating $50 billion by the year 2020.