Doing business with Richland County is now faster and more efficient.
That's because key aspects of the development process – planning, building codes, business services, fire plan review, floodplain regulation and engineering – now are together under one roof as part of a major overhaul to create the Richland County Development Services Center.
The county’s improved development-related functionality is the culmination of months spent by the county’s Development Services Task Force updating policies, procedures, the relocation of key staff and even its physical appearance to improve customer relations.
“This is truly one-stop shopping,” said Richland County Planning Director Tracy Hegler, who emphasized navigating the development process was sometimes cumbersome and confusing before when staffers reviewing development-related information and building applications were located more than 10 miles apart.
“Now staff can meet more readily to answer questions and more effectively respond to customers,” she said. “We’ve made a number of improvements to ensure business is conducted more efficiently, from behind-the-scenes improvements in processes and technology updates to the more obvious restructuring of the facilities to co-locate all staff that are involved in development review. We’ve even added new signage to help
s direct visitors.”
Visitors to the revamped first floor of the County Administration Building at 2020 Hampton St. will no doubt first notice the bright green walls and big, easy to read signs anchored by the large garden bed, located in the middle of the floor, that received a touch-up of its own with new plantings and mulch.
But the updated procedures and staff training is the foundation of the new look.
“The bottom line is improving customer service,” said Sparty Hammett, Assistant County Administrator for Development Services.
In addition to this overhaul, the building codes staff was honored this month by the International Code Council (ICC) for having achieved a 100 percent technical staff certification. ICC certifications ensure the staff has demonstrated competency in the requirements of the International Codes.
“ICC certifications demonstrate a professional commitment to public safety, vast knowledge of construction safety codes and a high level of initiative on the part of these employees,” Hammett said. “Being professionally certified by the Code Council provides a nationally recognized credential that will enhance the services provided to Richland County residents and businesses.”
While the improved procedures is the most important aspect of the county’s development services update, the administration building’s first-floor occupants are eager to see whether the new paint and new signs spark a renovation revolution, of sorts.
“We hope the physical appearance improvements will enhance Richland County’s image overall,” Hegler said. “Not only to external visitors, but to staff, as well. We’re trying to illustrate we are something more than standard, boring government-issued design.”