About CREC

The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) is an independent, not-for-profit organization founded to provide policy-makers from around the world with the information and technical assistance they need to formulate and execute innovative, regional, job-creating economic strategies.

Our staff members come from around the globe, bringing with them diverse backgrounds, and world-class skill sets.

CREC staff

Tia Williams Nelson
Senior Program Manager


Tia Williams Nelson joins CREC as a Senior Program Manager with 15+ years of combined experience in the public and private sector. She holds a BA from Clemson University and an MA in Urban and Regional Planning with a certificate in Economic Development from Virginia Tech.

Tia developed a passion for public policy and community development during her early career years on Capitol Hill. From there, she entered graduate school where she predominantly researched tech-based economic development as it applied to policy evolution in Upstate South Carolina. Upon graduation she entered the private sector, first as a franchise management consultant for Servpro Industries, then eventually co-owning a franchise after 7 years in progressive managerial roles. While at Servpro, Tia launched a marketing platform that quickly garnered community relevance as a leading economic development publication. In 2016, she departed from the franchise to devote fulltime attention in building Midlands Anchor, expanding it to two counties and approximately 40,000 site visits per month. The publication focused on sustainable Main Street re-development and overall promotion of innovators and the creative class in the Columbia, South Carolina region.

Tia returned to the public economic development space in 2019 as an innovation program manager at South Carolina Department of Commerce. While at Commerce she was the primary researcher and author of the 3rd edition of the South Carolina Innovation Plan, renamed Innovation Insights for community engagement purposes. Tia steered the redevelopment of the innovation plan to focus primarily on case studies and benchmarking for 6 key areas: Talent, Funding, Infrastructure, Ecosystem Leadership, Economic Resiliency, Commercialization and Industry-Academic Partnerships. The new mission of the plan centers on regional facilitations, listening opportunities, and state-level resource support.

Throughout her career, Tia spent extensive time in leadership roles at the local, regional and state level.  Tia has held board appointments and chair positions at numerous groups, namely the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Small Business Council, the Columbia World Affairs Council, and the Regional Education Center Advisory Board. She has received recognition as the Lexington Chamber of Commerce Young Professional of the Year, Clemson University’s Roaring Ten, and recognized in a full-page spread, “I am South Carolina Business”, by S.C. Chamber of Commerce’s premier quarterly magazine.

At CREC, Tia will assist in a host of projects providing organizational development, research, and thought leadership for clients in leading economic development sectors.

Tia is excited to return to the D.C. metro, this time with her husband, daughter, and 80-pound Bernese Mountain Dog mix, Patty Griffin. They enjoy exploring the many state parks in Northern Virginia, snow skiing, hiking, and visiting the family farm in North Dakota.

< Back