TATT Chat, September 24, 2020

TATT Chat, September 24, 2020

Scott Carr, VP, Commercial Business & Communications, GSP Airport District

Welcome Terence Roberts, TATT Chairman

Mayor Roberts spoke about the initial Creating a Safer Upstate Discovery meetings, and the action items forthcoming.

Guest Presentation Scott Carr, Vice President, Commercial Business & Communications, GSP International Airport

Scott discussed GSP’s response to COVID-19, a passenger activity update, and how GSP is preparing for recovery. You can see his presentation here.

TATT Updates Dean Hybl, TATT Executive Director

Dean introduced the Creating Upstate Unsung Heroes Virtual Event on November 18. Register and nominate your Unsung Hero here.

Stay tuned for upcoming TATT Chat guest speakers! Networking time 20 minutes prior to the meeting on upcoming TATT Chats!

Sign on early to network with friends and colleagues, and stay afterwards to chat for a few minutes as well.

Anderson (David McCuen, City of Anderson)

Anderson Strong Promise campaign: worked with hospitals and community to start a campaign to roll out by Fourth of July with broadcast on 19 TV stations, billboards, local radio, over 1,000,000 impressions, included mask blitz, added flu shots and census sign ups

Economic development is accelerating with new hotel completion date 2021 with 87 rooms, conference room space, main street retail space, pocket park and commercial space for grill and bar

Working with developer on the north side and with Council’s support creating a public plaza and street scape to include hotels, downtown living, attractions to bring people downtown including retail, such as groups of breweries

Housing growth is still going very strong

Greenwood (Kelly McWhorter, Discover Greenwood)

Hosted southern regional water ski championships, Jr Golf Assoc event with 78 golfers from over 14 states/5 countries Hoping to host the Crappy USA Fishing Tournament to bring us fisherman, hotel rooms, etc.

New campaign called “Boost Greenwood” to improve public safety, increase neighborhood vibrancy, quality of life

Over $150k in small business funding received from city/state Local children’s home decorating downtown for the holidays

Greenville (Sharon Self, Greer Development Corporation)

Downtown construction complete with Hampton Inn Hotel, parking deck, and mixed-use development is in the works with housing, retail, brewery

Lost two small businesses, but gained eight, including one that closed and came back.

Much business growth despite COVID Trade Street closed on Friday nights for restaurant seating

Laurens (Councilman Brown Patterson, Laurens County)

Secured two grants near two million dollars for lighting/improvements to Laurens Airport

Two new businesses, and two expansions (over $50 million) 500 acre/3 million square foot industrial park under construction with first buildings done 934 initial unemployment claims, down to 48 now

All manufacturers back to pre-COVID staffing levels 3,000 residential lots in development Inside the city, parking upgrades, and 3 historic buildings on the square in restoration

City of Clinton broke ground yesterday on sports complex: amphitheater, trails, bike trails, baseball fields

Oconee (Morgan Holcomb, Oconee Economic Alliance)

Economic development busier than ever with new director they have dealt with pandemic, tornado but things improving

Clean up last week for one of hardest hit areas

COVID levels have been pretty low

Quality of life side good with much boat buying

Lots of economic development leads

Naturaland Trust Announces Release of Tommy Wyche Biography

Naturaland Trust Announces Release of Tommy Wyche Biography

Naturaland Trust is excited to officially announce the release of Renaissance Man: The Life of Tommy Wyche by Lynne Lucas. The book is now available at two local bookstores, M.Judson Booksellers in Greenville and Hub City Bookshop in Spartanburg, with all proceeds benefiting Naturaland Trust.

The late Tommy Wyche founded and led Naturaland Trust, South Carolina’s second oldest land trust, in championing the 40-year initiative that resulted in the protection of over 100,000 acres of the South Carolina mountains, which today include Caesars Head State Park, Jones Gap State Park and Jocassee Gorges.  In addition, he was one of the key leaders in the revitalization of downtown Greenville. Tommy had an astonishing range of hobbies and talents, including photography, writing, piano, tennis, patented inventions, beekeeping, hiking and canoeing.

“Lynne has done an outstanding job in documenting my father’s full and amazing life,” said Brad Wyche, Tommy’s son.

Before starting her own eco-friendly garden design and installation company in 2003, Lucas was a staff writer, copy editor and columnist for The Greenville News for 25 years. The 339-page book, commissioned by Tommy’s children, explores his contributions to conservation, the City of Greenville’s amazing transformation, the Wyche law firm, and advocacy for the arts. It also includes a foreword by former Governor Dick Riley, many family stories, insights into his one-of-a-kind personality, and dozens of color photographs.

“The range of his accomplishments is just breathtaking,” said Lucas. “Every time I thought I was about finished, I’d uncover or be told about another terrific story or effort he was involved in.”

Tommy had so much going on in different arenas at the same time that one of the biggest challenges, said Lucas, was corralling and organizing the narrative, when it became clear that a chronological telling of his life wouldn’t work. Instead, the book is divided into major parts by topic.

Renaissance Man: The Life of Tommy Wyche is $24 and can be ordered at M.Judson Booksellers by calling 864-603-2412 and Hub City Bookshop by calling 864-577-9349. After ordering, store pickup is available at both bookstores, or the book can be shipped directly to your home.


Building on Tommy Wyche’s extraordinary legacy, Naturaland Trust continues to work on acquiring and protecting special places in the mountains and foothills of South Carolina, including lands adjoining Jones Gap and Paris Mountain State Parks, lands along Scenic Highway 11, expanding the Swamp Rabbit Trail, and protecting critical habitat for threatened and endangered species.

For more information, see www.naturalandtrust.org.

Q&A with Michael Hildebrand, Director of Upstate Mobility Alliance

Q&A with Michael Hildebrand, Director of Upstate Mobility Alliance

The Upstate Mobility Alliance was created following a two-year regional analysis of mobility in the Upstate known as Connecting Our Future. In January of this year, Michael Hildebrand was hired as the Director of the Upstate Mobility Alliance to help move the initial effort from analysis to action. The challenges of COVID-19 have further magnified some of the mobility challenges in the Upstate, especially in our rural and lower-wealth communities.

Michael answered a few questions to provide an update on the efforts and focus of the Upstate Mobility Alliance as we near the end of their first year of action.

Q: The Upstate Mobility Alliance was created with a vision to make the Upstate a vibrant and connected region. What areas have the most potential for success?

A: When the alliance was created, four areas were identified that we would focus our efforts on. Those areas include Public Transportation, Active and Livable Communities, Mobility Investments, and Technology and Innovation. We believe that by successfully implementing projects in each of these areas we will see great returns for the Upstate region.

Q: Could you explain the types of projects you envision in each of the focus areas?

A: From a Public Transportation position, we currently have four, historically underfunded, public transportation systems operating in the Upstate. This lack of funding has led to these systems having limited routes and service hours, which prevents them from being flexible enough to meet the changing needs of our communities. By raising awareness of this issue and providing out of the box thinking about how to create expanded service and regional connections, we can help these systems expand to reduce our dependence on automobiles.

Our focus for Active and Livable communities’ centers around making safe connections to home, shopping, education, employment, and other activities centers. These connections such as sidewalks, bike lanes, and trails allow people to get to where they want to go with needing a vehicle. The Upstate has a great network of trails and other connections currently, and we would like to continue expanding this network to continue the benefits of this focus such as increased economic mobility for our communities while also making us a healthier place to live.

Unfortunately, the Upstate, and South Carolina in general, have limited resources to fund transportation and infrastructure needs. There are many different options for funding these projects, and we will create opportunities for conversations and education about these options so that we can more effectively fund our transportation needs.

Finally, our Technology and Innovation focus is looking to build on the Upstate’s innovative culture and encourage pilot programs around, and the adoption of, transportation technology. These areas include autonomous vehicle technology, signal prioritization, and 5G technologies to create a safer and more efficient Upstate.

Q: What are some of the current Upstate Mobility Alliance projects you are excited about?

A: One project that I am excited about is our work with the seven rural Upstate counties. Each of these counties have expressed the issues, such as lack of economic mobility or safety concerns, they have seen because transportation is limited. We are convening leaders from these counties to discuss what their specific needs are and provide them with options that will help their community. In October we are hosting a panel discussion with five transit providers from across the United States who will explain why they needed to establish transportation services, how the service is funded, and share lessons learned during the process.

Another project I am excited about is the creation of our strategic plan. Our Leadership Committee is made up of brilliant and diverse community leaders who embrace the vision of the Upstate Mobility Alliance. Using this collective power, we are developing goals that will not only improve transportation and mobility in the Upstate but make our region more attractive to individuals and industries looking to live and work in an area that is progressive and vibrant.

Q: What will the Upstate look like when you are successful?

A: We are creating an Upstate region that will be vibrant and accessible to everyone, regardless of how they chose to travel. The Upstate will be known as bicycle and pedestrian friendly, on the cutting edge of mobility technology, welcoming to mobility startups, and a healthy and inclusive community. I am excited about our possibilities.

Ten at The Top Announces Date and Nomination Process for  Celebrating Upstate Unsung Heroes Virtual Event

Ten at The Top Announces Date and Nomination Process for Celebrating Upstate Unsung Heroes Virtual Event

Greenville, SC | September 15, 2020 – Ten at the Top [TATT] is excited to host the Celebrating Upstate Unsung Heroes Virtual Event at 11:30 am on November 18th, recognizing and honoring Unsung Heroes from across the 10-county Upstate region. Traditionally known as the annual Celebrating Successes Luncheon, this event typically recognizes businesses, organizations and individuals who help make the Upstate a leading place to live, learn, do business and raise a family. Given the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the TATT Board of Directors felt that it was not only necessary to host this event virtually, but to take the opportunity to honor those who have remained committed to serving others throughout this pandemic.

Whether they are a community volunteer, employed in an essential business or someone within local neighborhoods who has gone the extra mile, Ten at the Top is encouraging members of the Upstate community to nominate individuals who have stood out during the pandemic due to their unselfish nature and willingness to help support the well-being of their community. In addition to their service as an Upstate Unsung Hero, the only requirement for nomination is that the nominee must live or serve their vital community function within one of the following ten counties: Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg or Union. Everyone nominated will receive recognition as an Upstate Unsung Hero, but a selection committee will choose one special Unsung Hero per county to be honored as part of the November 18th event.

All nominations can be submitted directly online at www.tenatthetop.org/nominate-an-unsung-hero/ and must be submitted by October 14th at 5:00pm.

“As an organization that focuses on bringing the Upstate together, we felt this event was important to honor the individuals, organizations and businesses who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic to keep our community healthy, safe, and strong,” said Dean Hybl, Executive Director of Ten at the Top. “With the number of unfortunate events that have transpired over the past few months, we wanted to take this opportunity to shed light upon and honor our unsung heroes that have kept the Upstate going, day in and day out.

“Though we will not be able to gather in-person as a region to celebrate our Unsung Heroes, we intend to make this virtual gathering a special event that you will not want to miss. We will be live streaming the event and there will be several ways that attendees can participate in the celebration.”

The virtual event is free, though advance registration is requested through Eventbrite and a special “event gift” will be sent to all who register by Wednesday, November 11th. In lieu of an admission charge, attendees are encouraged to make a donation to help Ten at the Top continue its mission across the Upstate and to help say “thank you” to the county Unsung Heroes. Contributions will be divided between Ten at the Top general organizational support, the TATT Ignition Fund for providing long-term impact across the Upstate, and a “thank you” stipend to the Unsung Heroes that will be honored at this event.

To learn more about Ten at the Top and their Celebrating Upstate Unsung Heroes Virtual Event, please visit www.tenatthetop.org

Construction Roundtable: Insiders View of the Impacts from COVID-19 and the Economic Slowdown

Construction Roundtable: Insiders View of the Impacts from COVID-19 and the Economic Slowdown

Prior to the Global Pandemic, the construction industry in the Upstate was hitting on all cylinders with business strong in most sectors. Since the start of the pandemic, the construction industry is still going strong in some sectors, but there are others in which projects have slowed or stopped. We asked representatives from four local companies: Todd Horne from Clayton Construction, D.J. Doherty from Mavin Construction, Joe Pazdan from McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture and Neal Workman of Trehel Corporation, to provide us with an insiders view on how things are looking as we move towards the final quarter of 2020.

Q: In what ways, if at all, have you seen your business impacted by the pandemic?

A:  Joe Pazdan: The pandemic has significantly impacted the way we work. I am accustomed to having my team close at hand, with impromptu conversations and quick charrettes or design reviews that took a few minutes without scheduling. Collaboration now has to be intentional and often scheduled so for me, I have had to learn to work differently.

More importantly, I miss our team and the culture we have built taking care of one another. I miss experiencing the daily joys and struggles of the individuals in our firm from being together in the office.

Neal Workman: On a national level, we have witnessed investor and market insecurity, which trickles down and directly impacts local economics. At Trehel, we have experienced a disruption of decision-making, which has led to a “wait and see attitude” with projects being delayed and impacting new business procurement. The pandemic has created a heavy demand for our technology dependency and prompted us to continue expanding our capabilities.

There have been positive benefits as well; the unusual circumstances have allowed us to express care to our employees in new ways. We have adopted flex schedules, workflows, new processes, and the expanded use of communication tools, which otherwise may have been overlooked until they became a necessity.

Todd Horne: The biggest impact Clayton Construction has seen from the pandemic is our ability to congregate, converse, and work in what we knew as the traditional office environment. For all work, but especially in construction, an ability to meet with our clients and team members to review items from design coordination to product delivery is paramount. We have had to adapt from our traditional approaches and get creative with the implementation of technology to ensure we are operating as efficiently and cost effectively as possible.

Q: What unexpected impacts have you seen—good or bad—on the construction industry?

A: D.J. Doherty: Safety on a jobsite is always a primary focus throughout any type of commercial project, with an emphasis of constantly looking out for others on the site.  The Covid pandemic created a shift in some ways because any failure to follow guidelines put others at risk.  This shift was a recognizable awkwardness at first but quickly transitioned into much more of a comradery and recognition that those we work alongside can have just as much impact on your health through their actions as you create with your own.  Personal boundary lines became much more well defined and who was allowed within them was scrutinized more diligently.  While this could have created added tension, it also provided an opportunity to instead strengthen the bonds with those in our inner circles.  It encouraged a new emphasis on how the risks of personal choices/actions can convey to everyone around us.  While it could have been divisive, we have instead seen Covid serve as a rallying cry for the safety of the whole team.  The personal relationships between those working together daily have been strengthened and are flourishing with trust and accountability.  The cultural health of the team is no longer described as an idealistic goal but embraced as an expectation and starting point for individuals to be part of that team and enjoy it’s culture, knowing how to contribute by enhancing and strengthening each personal relationship.

Todd Horne: Clayton Construction has seen several unexpected impacts due to the pandemic. Our team has remained vigilant in mitigating the outbreak. Specifically, we have developed a COVID-19 Exposure Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Plan that has been implemented throughout our company and jobsites.

Another impact to our industry has been manufacturing plant shutdowns, material shortages and/or material delays resulting from the pandemic. All of this has made scheduling and coordination a challenge on projects where you are forecasting delivery/turnover sometimes 12 to 18 months in advance.

Although we have experienced some challenges, our region is still seeing a tremendous amount of growth and we are confident that the construction industry will continue to thrive in the Upstate.

Neal Workman: Since the industry was considered essential, projects have continued to progress at a somewhat normal pace without lengthy shutdowns. We have embraced online communication technologies, such as Zoom, that allow us to hold meetings virtually without exposure to the virus. While this has been effective, we have sacrificed the personal connection and collaboration, which historically has been vital to our business practices.

One of the most significant challenges has been managing the emotional “fear” of workers on our jobsites versus adapting to the pandemic’s real threat. In addition, we have experienced delays in deliveries and price increases, especially related to wood products due to manufacturing facilities either closed or operating with limited production capacity.

Q: In what ways is the building industry uniquely positioned to play a part in the economic recovery of the Upstate?

A: D.J. Doherty: The construction industry has enjoyed significant growth in the years leading up to the pandemic.  To support this demand most companies expanded their capacity, improved internal processes and learned how to work smarter.  The urgency of every project seemed to be ratcheted up , and delivery models for projects shifted with design build, partnering and CM@R arrangements becoming much more frequent.  The Covid pandemic placed much of the industry in a place of uncertainty about what the future holds and some adjustment was required by many to adapt to less opportunities and in some occasions reduced urgency.  The capacity and ability of the industry are still intact across the Upstate and Covid has provided just enough of a break that much of the industry completed the strategic initiatives for improved processes and better communication.  These initiatives were longer term goals but were quickly achieved out of necessity to survive, and will serve the Upstate well with an improved ability to move an idea or need from concept to shovels in the ground in the most efficient way possible.  The pandemic has hurt but also provided for better/stronger/wiser/faster processes that support recovery at record breaking pace.

Q: In what business sectors are you seeing the most activity? Are there any that surprise you? Please explain.

A: Joe Pazdan: Industrial has strengthened for the time being – eCommerce was already significant, but much more important now with so many working from home. Seeing distribution, warehousing and also manufacturing continue to invest.

Need for healthcare facilities still strong, but has had some fits and starts as they have been focused on fighting the virus and a downturn on revenue due to lack of surgeries. Seems to have settled and projects continue – it has been remarkable how our healthcare administrators and professionals have weathered through this storm.

Hospitality, retail and civic work is slower for us.

The loss in higher ed investments – a market that has been very stable, surprised us.  We admire the college and university presidents, along with K12 superintendents who have had to manage through this effort and wonder how this will impact long term investments.

Seems to be a lot of institutional money on the sidelines and developers continuing to look for new opportunities.