Richard K. Blackwell, SCCED
Executive Director


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Richard K. Blackwell was selected to lead the economic development efforts for Oconee County in April 2012. As the Executive Director of the Oconee Economic Alliance, he is driven to strengthen Oconee’s economy and enhance its global competitiveness by promoting economic growth through business retention and expansion, focus on new business recruitment, facilitation and negotiation of real estate development agreements, tax base stabilization and enhancement, implementing and supporting workforce development efforts, analysis of fiscal and economic impacts, and development and use of various economic development incentive tools.

Blackwell spearheaded the efforts in re-organizing what was the Economic Development Commission into the “new” Oconee Economic Alliance in 2013. Before coming to Oconee, he worked on regional economic development efforts with the Upstate SC Alliance, where he began in 2007 and most recently served as their Vice President. Blackwell has worked in various capacities within politics, government relations and local economic development since 1998.

Blackwell holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of South Carolina and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science also from the University of South Carolina. He has completed the ‘Basic Economic Development Course’ through Georgia Tech, earned a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from Duke University, earned a Certificate in Leadership from Clemson University and is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma (OU EDI). He is also a graduate of three leadership development programs and was selected as one of the “Best & Brightest” in Greenville, South Carolina by Greenville Business Magazine in 2008.  Mr. Blackwell has earned the “South Carolina Certified Economic Developer” (SCCED) certification through the South Carolina Economic Developers Association and the South Carolina Department of Commerce. In 2015, Blackwell was named the “local/regional economic development director of the year” by the Upstate SC Alliance. He is a board member of the South Carolina Economic Development Association and chair of their local developers committee.

Richard and his wife, Allison, live in Seneca, South Carolina with their five year old daughter, Ellen. When not working, you can find Richard continuing his eternal but futile quest to break 80 on the local golf courses.

Janet Hartman
Destination Oconee Manager


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Janet Hartman serves as the manager of Destination Oconee: Realizing the Future of Oconee County. She is responsible for the implementation of Oconee County’s tourism based, economic development strategy as well as assisting with the continued revitalization of the downtown districts within the community.

Hartman has an Associate’s Degree in Accounting. She has twenty years of banking experience and most recently served as the Downtown Development Manager in Blairsville, Georgia. Hartman completed the Georgia Main Street/Better Hometown Training and is a graduate of The Georgia Academy for Economic Leadership Training.

Emily Hodge
Economic Development Specialist


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Emily Hodge serves as the Economic Development Specialist for the Oconee Economic Alliance. She is responsible for database management, investor relations, and executing various research endeavors associated with economic development.

Hodge has her Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Sweet Briar College. She went on to briefly work in the banking industry in her hometown of Asheboro, North Carolina before moving to Oconee County with her husband in 2013. Most recently, she has worked with the School District of Oconee County as the bookkeeper and data clerk for Oconee Academy.


Daja Dial
Marketing and Communications 


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Daja Dial serves as the Marketing and Communications Manager for the Oconee Economic Alliance. She is responsible for managing the OEA’s overall marketing and communication strategy, as well as, provides oversight of the new digital ambassador program and various social media platforms.

Dial studied Women’s Leadership and Spanish at Clemson University and adds a fresh outlook to aid in the innovation of new ways to produce and deliver the message, mission, and goals of Oconee’s economic development approach.