Johnson honored for cooperation
August 30, 2016 Times and Democrat article (reprinted with permission)
Article by DIONNE GLEATON T&D Staff Writer
Photo by LARRY HARDY T&D
A local leader who combines an easy-going spirit with sharp business skills has been recognized for his ability to work with others.
Orangeburg resident Jim Johnson is regional director of the Small Business Development Center on the campus of South Carolina State University.
Johnson’s office offers individual, confidential business consulting at no cost. He serves seven counties, including Orangeburg and Calhoun counties.
The 43-year-old is past chairman of the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce, past president of the Orangeburg Rotary Club and past recipient of the Orangeburg Business Person of the Year award.
Johnson serves the community on several other levels, including as chairman of the Orangeburg County Voter Registration and Election Commission and district commissioner of the Edisto District for the Boy Scouts of America.
He is also an assistant scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 45 of Orangeburg.
Johnson owned and operated a medical supply company for 18 years and was the owner-operator of All Star Deli in Orangeburg for seven years.
He has collaborated with other business, civic and government leaders in the community throughout his career and considers it an advantage to be able to work with others.
It is his propensity to work with others for the common good that has earned Johnson the designation as the exemplification of cooperation as part of the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative. The initiative is highlighting cooperation during August.
Johnson said he gave OCCOC Executive Director Evelyn Disher “a big hug” when he learned he received the honor.
“I was humbled and just glad. I really think the Community of Character organization is a great initiative,” Johnson said.
The businessman said a community is only as strong as its desire to work together.
“We’re all stronger together. You can accomplish things that way, and we learn that through education, church and different boards and things that we serve on. You can’t do it by yourself,” Johnson said. “People who do good things do it on the shoulders of other people, and you have to work together to get things accomplished.”
Johnson’s role as regional director of the SBDC on the S.C. State campus involves conducting one-on-one counseling with businesses, but that’s not the only service.
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“We also do education in those communities, including seminars and workshops on business issues. The third thing is advocacy. We try to be advocates for business and the business environment,” he said.
It is a task which could not be done without collaboration, especially in the referral of small businesses to accounting, tax preparation and other services they may need within the community.
“My counselors and I have certain skill sets, but we don’t know everything. We might bring in other agencies like the Department of Revenue to assist with some things. It just depends on what it is,” Johnson said.
He added, “We tap other federal agencies like the USDA. We use our Small Business Administration resources to try to help people, but we really work very closely with chambers of commerce, development commissions and any type of organization that’s going to give some type of resources to small businesses, including utility companies.”
Johnson is also part of the One Orangeburg County Initiative, which is designed to make the county a better place to live, work and play.
He said his work with the local Boy Scouts and Voter Registration and Election Commission are also lessons in cooperation.
“Being part of the Boy Scouts is also helping them to cooperate on projects. We’re working with the Orangeburg County Soil and Water Conservation District right now to try to do a tree beautification grant,” he said.
He and his wife, Summer, are the parents of three children: Drew, 14, Xan, 11 and Autumn, 4.
His children attend Orangeburg Christian Academy. His job as a dad also involves cooperation.
“We’re just trying to help educate them and expose them to all kinds of different things in the community, whether it’s the library, YMCA or other local community programs. That all gets you working with different people,” he said.
He considers the late community leader Austin Cunningham and former Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce President David Coleman among his mentors.
“And of course you have the influence of your parents and your spouse. They’re a pretty big influence,” Johnson said.
He said the Community of Character initiative is a good vehicle for highlighting the positive.
“There are people out there working hard and doing good things,” he said.