The Palmetto Institute is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit research and educational organization established in February 2002. As originally organized, the central mission and singular goal of the Institute was to create a business, community, political and educational climate that would produce dramatic and sustained growth in the creation, distribution and retention of wealth for every person in South Carolina. The Institute sought to accomplish this serious endeavor by providing high quality, scholarly and academically sound research and policy options on issues of importance to South Carolina.

 The Institute concentrated its focus on state and regional public policy issues by:

  • Conducting research on topics that affect future development and promote positive economic change within South Carolina; 

  • Fostering and facilitating productive collaboration among researchers from a variety of fields and disciplines;

  • Disseminating research findings and conclusions to both scholarly and lay audiences;

  • Offering practical, unbiased information and ideas on key public policy issues to citizens, policymakers and the media; and 

  • Assisting opinion leaders and policymakers in reaching informed decisions in matters that affect the future of South Carolina.

While making substantial progress in helping South Carolina focus on building the key economic foundation strategies necessary to compete in a global economy, the Institute also realized that the strategies necessary to improve the quality of life for all citizens were not reaching the local communities, especially those with distressed economies. This realization led to a shift of the Palmetto Institute’s mission in 2010. Believing that communities needed not only strong research support in developing new economic strategies but also help in implementing such strategies, the Institute sought willing partners to help develop and implement plans at the local level but with a statewide benefit. Two such efforts were bringing Teach for America to South Carolina, and creating and helping implement the Benefit Bank, and both have been huge successes.   Specifics about both of these programs can be found under the “Initiatives” Tab of this website – Benefit Bank can be found under “Economic Development” and Teach For America under “Education.” 

Currently, and in addition to the above initiatives, the Palmetto Institute is providing support for an effort to reinvigorate the economy of the small, once tobacco, town of Lake City. This effort is being approached as both a pilot project to turn a distressed, small rural town into an economically-vibrant, growing community and as a means of testing new approaches which can be adopted by other distressed communities to improve their quality of life. 

Remarkably, a marketing idea to bring attention to Lake City by hosting a Southeastern art contest known as ArtFields®, which was successfully initiated in 2013, has been named by CNN as THE tourist destination event for South Carolina in 2014.  For more information visit http://www/

In a similar manner with the effort to improve the Lake City community, we are also leading an effort to work with the local school district in a high poverty area to improve student achievement. Again, it is our goal to closely measure the new approaches being introduced to the school district and seek ways to transfer such programs to other poor, failing schools in South Carolina.

The Palmetto Institute is organized and operated as a 501(c) (3) entity and accepts donations from the membership of its Board of Directors, as well as board-approved donations from charitable and philanthropic organizations and private donations.