Ms. Teresa Wilson
As a municipal trailblazer, City Manager Teresa Wilson leads the executive team for South Carolina’s capital city. Columbia is a fast-paced city that is growing and developing on a daily basis, but City Manager Teresa Wilson is up to the task and she is focused on taking the city’s operations to the next level. On a daily basis, she works diligently to address the needs of residents in the community, while also focusing on public safety and economic development initiatives. Teresa Wilson is a proven leader and has hands on experience working with the business community to develop projects that will be catalysts for future economic growth.
Prior to her role as Columbia’s chief executive officer, Wilson served in various professional capacities including her role as the Government and Community Relations Coordinator for the University of South Carolina’s Office of the President. When she transitioned into municipal government, Wilson served as the Chief Lobbyist and Director of Governmental Affairs for the City of Columbia. She was later named the City of Columbia’s Assistant City Manager for Community Programs, Economic Development and Government Services. Wilson's leadership was key in a number of groundbreaking initiatives including transforming Columbia's Community Development department into a nationally recognized model organization and reducing the city's Commercial Revolving Loan Fund's default rate from 29% to 4% in just one fiscal year.
She and her team led Downtown dramatic rebirth through projects like the highly successful 2012 Facade Grant Program which leveraged roughly $425,000 in federal CDBG funds to create over $6.1 million in private Downtown investment and, working with departments across the city, she has helped supplement vital services like public safety by securing tens of millions in grant dollars.
Wilson’s experience has provided her with a special understanding of how economic development impacts the financial stability of the community through job creation, support of the local economy and a myriad of emerging business ventures.
City Manager Teresa Wilson’s business and management philosophy is focused on the “Build Columbia” strategic framework, which emphasizes the need to “Run, Grow and Transform” our city in an efficient and effective manner in order to yield a productive business and financial model for the City of Columbia’s operations. During her tenure as Columbia’s City Manager, she has implemented and overseen numerous initiatives that are focused on making the city more efficient and more effective for citizens and business owners.
Enhancing the quality of life in Columbia is a primary focus for City Manager Wilson and her commitment was aptly displayed during the process to identify and select a strong leader to transform the Columbia Police Department. Public safety, which includes fire protection and emergency services, is at the core of not only the stability of neighborhoods, but also the continued success of the business community. Code enforcement operations have also been merged into the police department to solidify the process for maintaining clean, safe communities and hospitality districts.
In addition, Wilson hired the City of Columbia’s first official Chief Financial Officer in order to assure that the fiscal foundation of the city remains strong and continues to sustain the multiple services that are critical to taxpayers. This important hire yielded a 2014 Government Finance Officers Association award, which is an accomplishment that had not been bestowed on Columbia for almost a decade. Since then, the City has received the award for four consecutive years.
To date Wilson’s leadership has yielded the creation of a business liaison function within the Economic Development Department in order to enhance communications and relationships with current and potential business partners on a local, regional and national basis. The focus on business retention has also been elevated through the development of a business retention plan that includes collaborations with leaders from various business districts. Her focus on community development has been equally beneficial and has resulted in new homes being built in various Columbia neighborhoods, while also offering competitive loans for new homeowners. Wilson believes that renewing and revitalizing neighborhoods is the platform for strengthening the community as a whole.
While maintaining a balance among her priorities is important, Wilson has not abandoned the value of direct communications with Columbia’s citizens. She takes pride in attending community meetings, speaking at public functions, serving as a mentor to youth and addressing the needs of residents with a hands-on approach.
Wilson’s leadership of the City of Columbia was never more evident than during the historic flood of October 2015. The entire city rallied together and implemented operations on a 24 hour basis in order to meet the needs of citizens who were in dire straits. The catastrophic path of the flood impacted all areas within the city limits and even though resources were stretched to the maximum level, the strong leadership of management met the needs of residents in a heroic way.
In 2016, Wilson shepherded a one-year strategic planning process that yielded focus areas and goals that will propel the City of Columbia towards the future. The plan challenges citizens to envision Columbia in the year 2036. By 2036, Columbia has captured the new American dream. While embracing our 250-year rich history, we enthusiastically welcome the future with seven focus areas and five goals outlined in the City Council Vision Statement called Envision Columbia. Wilson and the City’s Executive Leadership team have developed a work plan that will be implemented over the next two years that is closely connected to the Envision Columbia goals. The internal work plan will be re-evaluated and updated every two years.
On a personal basis, City Manager Teresa Wilson believes in servant leadership and collaboration. She partners and encourages her staff to collaborate with Midlands area governments, as well as colleges and universities, and many local organizations including the Columbia Urban League, Building Industry Association, the Chamber of Commerce, neighborhood and hospitality associations and a host of others. Wilson has also completed the Senior Executive Institute at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business and is an active member of ICMA, the International City/County Management Association. She is a Liberty Fellow, Class of 2018, and a Riley Fellow through the Riley Institute at Furman University.
Wilson is a member of Gethsemane Baptist Church, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Junior League and the Columbia Chapter of Jack & Jill of America. She has received numerous accolades, including being named one of Columbia's 2008 "Top 20 Under 40" Business Professionals, one of Columbia Business Monthly's “50 Most Influential People” in 2011, 2016 and 2017 and one of Southeast Small Business Magazine's "Top Women of Influence".
City Manager Teresa Wilson is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Steve and Teresa H. Wilson, and the proud mother of a daughter, Teresa Alexandria "Alex" Florence. Wilson recently became engaged to Mr. William Reginald Brice.