The fourth Creating a Safer Upstate – Beyond the Shield Virtual Workshop provided an opportunity for Community Leaders to share concerns with Law Enforcement Officers across the Upstate.
The panel included Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis, Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright, Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw, Town of Williamston Police Chief Tony Taylor, City of Anderson Chief Jim Stewart, and City of Greer Police Chief Matt Hamby. Jim Shew from Marsh & McLennan and Keishe Nelson from Michelin coordinated the audience questions during the session.
Sheriffs and Chiefs addressed questions about how community leaders can support law enforcement, how the national conversation on criminal justice reform impacts the implementation of law enforcement practices and procedures at the local level, how information is communicated and where to look for the most accurate news, what communities can do to help police in regards to response and communications, community engagement, mental health, and reporting.
Does Mentoring Entrepreneurs Make a Difference? If you ask any of the non-profit program leaders at SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), Start:ME, Village Launch, or NEXT, they will respond with a resounding, “YES.” Mentors often make the difference between launch, success, and failure. Village Launch and Start:ME provide individual mentoring for founders enrolled in their programs; NEXT and SCORE provide mentoring without a formal training program.
Start:ME and Village Launch offer 14 and 10-week long classes, respectively, pairing entrepreneurs with 1-2 mentors for the duration. According to Jeanette Brewster, Village Launch Program Director, mentors assist entrepreneurs with applying the lessons each week to their own individual business. They are the sounding board as the entrepreneur processes ideas and concepts. Mentors are also a great resource as they listen to business pitches and provide constructive feedback.
At Start:ME, Elise Harvey, Ph.D., Program Co-Director and Assistant Professor of Marketing at USC Upstate, notes that mentors play so many roles: cheerleaders, sounding boards, links to resources, devil’s advocate, and listeners. Generally, 2-3 mentors are paired with 2 entrepreneurs for 14 weeks. The entrepreneur-mentor teams work together throughout the program, learning from each other and developing strong relationships and networks of support.
SCORE and the NEXT Venture Mentoring Service (VMS) offer direct support for founders. According to Jerry Smith, Piedmont SCORE mentor, their volunteer mentors support entrepreneurs in two primary ways. The first is via one-on-one coaching provided by experienced executives and small businesses owners. SCORE also has subject-matter experts to assist the mentors and teach various workshops that enhance the mentoring experience.
Tim Reed, the volunteer leader of the NEXT VMS program, notes that their volunteer mentors have varied backgrounds which allows for cross-discipline teams of two to four mentors. They focus on the individual rather than the business to give unbiased assistance to further develop the skills of the founder. The goal of the monthly meetings between mentor and mentee is to build a better leader.
According to each program leader, the entrepreneurs receive substantial benefits from mentoring. The most common benefit is the mentor’s real-world experience from having “been there”. Jeanette from Village Launch says they have seen increased confidence in the entrepreneurs and more consistent pursuit of their goals after the program ends. Elise notes that Start:ME mentors challenge entrepreneurs to take things to the next level.
According to Tim with NEXT, the founders build skills to handle whatever issue they are facing and tackle new ones as they arise. Since entrepreneur needs vary, they benefit from the ability of mentors to meet them with the right support at the time. Sometimes this requires “tough love”, sometimes narrow focus on the problem at hand, and it is always different from founder to founder.
If the founders receive so much benefit, what about the mentors? Why would someone volunteer for the responsibility of helping an entrepreneur realize their dreams? According to Elise with Start:ME, mentors often comment that they feel as if they are learning just as much as the entrepreneurs. The primary benefit for mentors is building relationships with entrepreneurs who, very often, come from entirely different backgrounds.
For the NEXT VMS mentors, not only are the mentoring sessions very rewarding, but the mentors meet on a regular basis to discuss best practices within the process. They follow strict guidelines provided by MIT on how to conduct and structure the meetings. The structure creates stability, and the diverse backgrounds and experiences of the other mentors are an incredible asset to the mentors.
At SCORE, mentors enjoy the opportunity to give back to the community in a unique way. Mentors say it is very rewarding to watch a founder traverse the challenges of starting a new business and, over time, achieve their dream of becoming a profitable business owner.
The deep desire to give back and lift up fellow entrepreneurs motivates many of the mentors at Village Launch. For some, it inspires them to be around the level of energy and passion brought on by others. When you sit in a room among other creatives and innovators it sparks something in you to explore and create more in your own life.
All the organizations are recruiting new mentors. For more information, please contact them directly.
SCORE is looking for a volunteer with a marketing and social media background to be a mentor or subject matter expert. Contact Jerry at Smith.email@example.com
Village Launch is looking for mentors for its 3 classes in 2022. They are open to a wide range of skills and backgrounds. Because social capital is important, having a person who can connect the founder with their network can be just as valuable as other knowledge. Apply through the Village Launch website www.villagelaunch.org/mentor or email Jeanette Brewster at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Start:ME is also actively recruiting mentors with the following areas of expertise: accounting, finance, sales, logistics, strategy, and marketing. Mentors come from a wide variety of backgrounds including retired executives, entrepreneurs, academia, big corporations, small businesses, and more. Interested mentors can contact Dr. Elise Harvey at email@example.com or fill out the mentor interest form at startmespartanburg.com.
The NEXT VMS program is always open to additional mentors. They look for mentors that have seen the ups and the downs of executing an idea from any area of their past to encourage and guide the mentee. Visit the NEXT VMS website.
As the end of each year approaches, people excitedly ask the Upstate SC Alliance team to report on the capital investment and jobs announced within the Upstate.
Although a final tally of the Upstate’s 2021 announcements won’t be available until Local Economic Development Offices close out their reports, there’s a lot we can glean from the headlines.
“We’re having a good year in creating jobs,” Upstate Alliance President & CEO John Lummus shared during a Dec. 2 TATT Chat. Year-to-date announcements through the end of November indicate the region will surpass $1.88 billion in new capital investment and more than 6,500 new jobs. (Note: you can explore Upstate announcements here.)
One big takeaway: existing industries are speaking volumes with their growth in the region – with just over half of the Upstate’s announcements coming from existing employers.
That’s especially important when it comes to continued job creation. For example, Lockheed Martin’s 300 new jobs in Greenville, Arthrex’s 500 new jobs in Anderson, and ZF’s 500 new jobs in Laurens. Yes, workforce is tight, though these companies have global operations – they can choose to grow wherever they want – and they continue to choose our location. That’s a strong endorsement for the Upstate’s workforce.
And nothing sells the region better than a company success story.
So how do we get these stories in front of new businesses?
“What we try to go is get Upstate South Carolina noticed across the country and across the world,” Lummus said. One big measure of the team’s impact: nationwide searches of “Upstate South Carolina” increased 22% and averaged 4,400 searches per month from December 2018-December 2020.
We attribute that increase to a combination of our strategic digital marketing initiatives – both to recruit businesses and through our Move Up talent initiative, intended to connect Upstate employers with talent. And it’s furthered by the work of our global engagement and business recruitment teams, the region’s economic developers, the SC Department of Commerce, and the multiplying effect of our 180+ investors.
“The heart of what we do is building relationships,” Lummus said. “It was true before the pandemic, and it’s become even more important since.”
Those relationships include:
Site selectors, which are individuals or firms that are hired by companies to find new site locations. Lummus shared that about 50% of current projects are being led by site consultants.
International trade offices, including the Consular representatives based in Atlanta who connect their home countries with the United States. We maintain strong relationships with Western Europe, where our deepest business connections remain, with companies like Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Ireland. Though in an early 2021 virtual event, representatives from 19 countries Zoomed in to learn about the region.
Industry leaders and Upstate companies, who can keep us dialed into us with trends, insights, their own business connections, and who share how the Upstate has proven a successful location for them.
“The gains the Upstate region has seen are a result of tremendous vision and leadership,” Lummus added. “And that vision remains important today. Between pandemic uncertainty, supply chain challenges, technology altering how we conduct business, the rise of electric mobility and increased attention to sustainability, we have to keep our eye on innovation to maintain our competitive edge.”
An interesting phenomenon as we move through the second year of the pandemic is the growing number of people who have voluntarily left their jobs. In August 2021, 4.3 million people quit jobs of their own choice, with the number growing to 4.4 million in September. National media has dubbed this trend as the “Great Resignation.”
During the recent Global Entrepreneur Week, I attended an event where one of the speakers had a very different spin on this trend. He used the term the “Great Reset” and suggested that people leaving jobs and changing careers is part of something bigger than just being unhappy with some element of a current job situation.
For many of us, the pandemic has been an opportunity to do a self-analysis of what is important in both our personal and professional lives.
The speaker suggested that people now leaving their jobs is part of this self-analysis and desire to find a job or career path that can create more self-fulfillment or allow for more flexibility and time to focus on other things that are important (family, health, etc.).
He thinks many people are using this time to reset their career goals after perhaps having gotten “stuck” in a job or career different from what they had foreseen when they joined the workforce. His personal journey reflects this reset philosophy as he chose to leave a larger corporate environment to venture into the world of entrepreneurship.
As we continue to move forward and learn more about the next career moves for the millions who are leaving jobs, it will be interesting to see how many took this opportunity to not only change jobs, but also to change career fields or to go into business for themselves.
Here in the Upstate, there has been a growing emphasis over the past decade on providing resources for entrepreneurs and small business owners. If there is a growing number of people looking to reset their career journey and find their own business path, continuing to increase the number of support resources while also increasing awareness of these resources will be crucial.
Earlier this year, the Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem coordinated through Ten at the Top unveiled a new web portal called Start-Grow-Upstate. This online tool includes listings for resources available for small businesses and entrepreneurs across the Upstate region.
As more people assess and reset their career journeys, tools like Start-Grow-Upstate can become valuable resources that help them thrive and succeed.
Ten at the Top is an Upstate-based non-profit focused on encouraging partnerships around issues that impact economic vitality and quality of life in the 10-county region. You can learn more and participate in TATT virtual and in-person events through www.tenatthetop.org.
Read this article on Upstate Business Journal here.
John Lummus, Upstate SC Alliance – Please see slides.
Are there specific areas of the country you are targeting for attracting talent?- In the beginning, they identified 10 specific areas in the country. They’re expanding to 20 areas to target. They’re working with GVLToday because they have newsletters in those areas as well.
Are the industry leaders you target those within SC or those that are nationally focused? (Not answered)
Do you happen to know how the healthcare industry measures up for the Upstate? Is there a growth of health promotion interventions or wellness centers (both corporate based and free standing)? – The upstate healthcare providers are excellent and involved. From the recruitment side, it’s always a positive about the upstate healthcare availability.
Is there anything the Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem can do to support the locally-owned businesses that make a location more attractive to the companies you recruit?Yes – part of their initiative is to help entrepreneurs get set in this area. Working with other local organizations (NEXT, Clemson, etc) to help with this effort.
How do we look as a region as far as product and infrastructure go for companies looking to come to the Upstate? – Product is starting to dwindle a bit; we need more from private and public sectors. There has been a huge increase in the national developers to look into our region to do just that. Infrastructure will be a huge thing for the upstate in the future.
Bedrija Jazic, Director Refugee of Refugee and Immigrant Services, Lutheran Services Carolinas – Lutheran Services Carolinas is a faith-based organization that provides a large array of services. This Refugee and Immigrant Services program was closed in 2017 as the population they were helping were largely settled. It will be reopening to help resettle about 100 refugees from all over the world in January 2022: this includes children and families. They’re currently in 8 military bases across the US. It involves case management, employment services, and safe/welcoming homes. Engaging local organizations is a vital part of resettling these individuals; please reach out to Bedrijia with interest.
Brandon Baughn, World Relief Upstate – World Relief Upstate is working internationally to focus on resettlement of immigrants and refugees who were facing persecution. Recently, many refugees have come to the Upstate from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and their average vetting process has taken up to 16 years. They provide case management, affordable housing, furnishing a home, connecting with social services, help with job placement, create a supportive community, and aiding in self-sufficiency.
Questions: Tell us what the primary needs your organizations are seeking and the gaps you are seeing within our communities. How can we as individuals help? – Primary need is affordable housing that is close to the public transportation system. As an individual, you can help in many ways – share information in your network, share who the refugees are so people are familiar with them to dispel fear, create connections to potential employers, become advocates for the positive benefits that refugees offer our community, advocate to local officials, volunteer, and as always, provide funding when needed.
Tommy Sinclair, Circles Greenville – Circles Greenville helps people completely emerge from poverty, not just through a crisis moment. Partner middle income people (allies) with people experiencing poverty (leader) to break a generational cycle of poverty. There is a 12- week training program and then the groups are matched. They commit to an 18-month relationship between the leaders and allies. They walk step-by-step through their goals and the walk of meeting those goals: increase in social capital, resource development, job goals, etc.
Question: Is the threshold for poverty based on gross or net? Gross.