with Sharon Purvis
Ana Parra, Women’s Business Center Program Director, CommunityWorks
Earlier this year, CommunityWorks applied for and received funding from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to be one of two organizations in South Carolina to launch a Women’s Business Center. The CommunityWorks Women’s Business Center (WBC) is a part of a national network designed to help women start and grow small businesses.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about the how CommunityWorks came to house the new Women’s Business Center—was it something CommunityWorks pursued, or was it more of an initiative in search of a home? Or a little of both?
While CommunityWorks had to apply for the grant to fund the center, the organization’s commitment to building opportunities for all through financial education lending and investing made us a natural fit for the WBC. CommunityWorks has seen firsthand the growing number of women business owners in our Upstate community and the need for women to have supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem. With the WBC, we will be able to empower women entrepreneurs, through advocacy, outreach, networking, coaching, and education.
Q: What kinds of programs will be offered to women with the center that are distinct from the other programs offered by CommunityWorks?
The WBC continues the work of CommunityWorks to provide relevant training and resources to women and communities of color. Our focus has always been on reaching and work with those who have been traditionally underserved by traditional banking institutions. The WBC will be offering clients one-on-one support through our CommunityWorks team. The guidance and training offered is designed to build confidence, skills, networks, and access to capital to women, with an intentional outreach to women of color.
Some of those programs include self-paced trainings, business planning using an online platform with the guidance and feedback from the WBC, and business coaching for businesses that have been disrupted by COVID-19.
Q: I know that the Credit Union at CommunityWorks is for people who live or work in Greenville County. Does the Women’s Business Center likewise cater only to Greenville County residents, or is it open to women across the Upstate?
We’re looking forward to working with women all over the Upstate and will be working in 15 counties: Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Chester, Edgefield, Greenville, Greenwood, Lancaster, Laurens, McCormick, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg, Union and York.
Q: When will the center be up and running, and what will the first offerings be?
The CommunityWorks Women’s Business Center is open! When clients register with the CommunityWorks Women’s Business Center, they will be able to sign up for business consultation to determine how we can best help them on their business journey—whether that’s support in creating or updating a business plan, personal finance, or business coaching.
We are working on a variety of trainings and webinars to help business owners better respond to COVID-19 depending on what sector they are in, as well as providing technical assistance in areas such as business planning, accounting, marketing, and technology.
Q: What else do you want people to know about the Women’s Business Center?
The CW WBC wants to support business owners at every level. We are here to help with next steps whether you are in the idea phase or growth phase. And if you happen to be a business owner who wants to provide mentorship and network with other small business owners, we want to hear from you too, as we develop a network of women entrepreneurs who represent the Upstate’s diverse communities and a variety of sectors.
We have had such a great response so far and we hope to grow and develop to meet the needs of the amazing women who making the Upstate community a dynamic place to live.
Welcome—Terence Roberts, TATT Chairman
Sean Dogan, Interim CEO of the Urban League of the Upstate
Guest Presentation—Sean Dogan, Interim CEO of the Urban League of the Upstate
- Mission: advance equity by empowering black and other underserved communities through advocacy, education and economic stability
- Organizational assessments with Stan Davis, helped map out where we were and next steps for where we’re going.
- One of 90 affiliates of the national Urban League, HQ in NYC.
- Represents Greenville, Spartanburg, Union, and Greenwood Counties
- 6 programs:
- Right Step Juvenile Diversion—98% success rate
- Project Ready—high school program to get students ready for college, work, and life
- Level Up (foster care students)
- 21st Century Learning Center
- Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program
- affordable housing—financial education
- We need more about law enforcement doing more – creating friendships and participating. Community policing. Also brought someone to them they would not have met otherwise. Click here for a video of a great example of community policing, with some help from basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal
Click here for Sean’s presentation
Dean Hybl, TATT Executive Director
- Busy week: Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem met Wednesday, Senior Issues group met earlier Thursday, Upstate Mobility Alliance will meet Friday
- Next TATT Chat with Jim Shew, Vice President—Employee Benefits, Marsh & McLennan Agency, September 10th—register here
- Networking time 20 minutes prior to the meeting on upcoming TATT Chats! Sign on early to network with friends and colleagues.
Anderson (Blake Sanders, Mayor of West Pelzer):
- giving away masks
- Pelzer/West Pelzer continue to more forward with economic development
- Pelzer going through branding/marketing/web strategy
- Powdersville—Dolly Cooper Park, going through master plan
- 2500 feet of trail, new kayak launch, etc. A regional draw for this part of the county, spurs outdoor recreation
- More people out walking. More students walking to school. People are asking for more sidewalks.
Greenville (Shawn Bell, City of Fountain Inn):
- new residential construction going strong
- new businesses opened in the last few months
- class A industrial park construction moving along
- several restaurants in city limits have had best grossing sales in May or June—very encouraging to see
- city of Fountain Inn has seen challenges with 16 staff testing positive for COVID, hope to reopen to the public soon
- events canceled, but still doing virtual city council meetings
Laurens (Alesia Carter, United Way of Laurens County):
- mask giveaways because people didn’t seem to have them
- food drives every week with a lot of participation, much needed—400K pounds of food
- youth box giveaways in 4 different locations
- food bank still drive through, still seeing a lot of need
- trying to get people to complete the census
- school supplies drive
Oconee (Libby Imbody, Main Street Walhalla):
- started March 1st, has been in survival mode.
- what makes us unique has helped us be resilient
- slow but steady stream of tourists because of outdoor assets
- small events that get people on the street
- some merchants have had record June/July
- working on 5 historic properties
- grant received for a walkway around the perimeter of the commercial districts, which will connect to Stumphouse Mountain
Pickens (Allison Fowler, Pickens County Parks, Recreation and Tourism):
- new marketing and branding plan just released a few weeks ago, eager to get started rolling it out
- people flocking to the outdoors, so parks have been very busy
- hired a couple of new positions
- new announcements about old mills being bought for development
Eliza Hart, Account Executive, Smoak Public Relations
by Eliza Hart, Account Executive, Smoak Public Relations
With the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19, we are without a doubt experiencing a different time and all businesses have had to pivot. The event world is no exception. COVID-19 has forced all events to come to a halt and determining the next steps has been a challenge.
We reached out to some of our friends in the event industry to gather different expert opinions on what they recommend to best help you move forward with your event. Please find the below pointers on how to navigate the event world during such a unique time.
Perspective from the event planner (Smoak Public Relations): As an event planner and account executive at Smoak PR, I suggest using this time to get organized, work ahead and make your event even better! For starters, reach out to your venue and hold several new event dates—request first right of refusal. With the status of COVID-19 ever changing, it is important to have more than one date option and to consider the possibility of a virtual event. The upside of having a virtual event is that you are able to keep your original date and stay connected with your attendees. In addition, you are saving on the majority of event expenses, such as food & beverage, rentals, event signage, and more. However, hosting a virtual event makes it more difficult for networking opportunities to occur and may also result in lower event attendance. You must be very creative if you are hosting a virtual event!
Perspective from the event rental company (Professional Party Rentals): Janice Mancuso at Professional Party rentals gave us some insight on what they are seeing from an event rentals standpoint. She shared, “With events coming to a stop it has resulted in most event rental companies temporarily shutting down. We are getting small orders here and there, but we are no longer running at full capacity. At PPR, sales representatives are only working one day a week; therefore, response time may be delayed. Be sure to stay organized and make a list of everything you need so you can limit the amount you are contacting vendors. It would also be helpful to visit our website, where you most likely will be able to find the answers to the majority of your questions. The website will give you a good idea of what items we have and hopefully provide some inspiration!”
Perspective from the caterer (Southern Way Catering): The general manager of Southern Way Catering, Mark McCalmont shared, “With event dates being rescheduled, we will be busy when things are back up and running; however, in the meantime we are taking a hit. COVID-19 has affected scheduling, food orders and staffing, so share updates with your caterer as soon as you can. Most people who order food to go are picking up from local restaurants rather than ordering meals through a caterer. Most caterers, Southern Way Catering included, have family meal options for any day of the week and especially options for holidays. Use this time to support your caterer and order food to go so you can sample different menu offerings. This is also a great time to check things off your list and finalize your menu and bar package.”
Perspective from the venue (Bon Secours Wellness Arena): According to Joe Dolan, assistant general manager at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, “the live event, sports, and entertainment industry has been impacted significantly by COVID-19. Our industry was one of the first to cease operation after the spread of the virus, and will likely be one of the last to return as restrictions are lowered. Customer safety and security is at the forefront of every decision we make, so new best practices will be instituted to ensure each guest is comfortable enjoying the unique experiences our events have always provided. Our industry is familiar with adapting to protect our guests, and just as we did post 9/11 and in the age of violence against mass gatherings, we will overcome these new challenges to create a welcoming and safe atmosphere for fans of sports, events, and live music.”
Karen Canup, MBA—COO/CFO, Sherman College
by Karen Canup, MBA—Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer, Sherman College of Chiropractic
What happens when a “hands-on” education suddenly becomes impossible? Sherman College in Spartanburg, SC, faced this very question when the COVID-19 pandemic reached a critical point this March.
At Sherman College, the only chiropractic college in the Carolinas, adaptation is a frequent topic of discussion. Doctors of Chiropractic help patients achieve optimal health and function without drugs or surgery, using their hands to gently adjust the spine to facilitate health and healing. Because chiropractic takes a preventative approach to healthcare, the body’s ability to adapt to outside stressors and forces is a central concept.
So when Sherman College leaders made the difficult decision to move to a distance-learning format at the end of spring quarter, adaptation had to happen, and fast. The enormity of shifting an entire face-to-face curriculum to a distance learning model cannot be overstated, but we were determined to continue providing the same top-quality chiropractic education we always have.
Thanks to the college’s iPad initiative, the transition went as smoothly as possible. Launched in 2016, iSherman provides every student with an iPad loaded with tools for success—including video tutorials, e-books, course syllabi, and more—at no additional cost. While iPads and other learning technologies have been part of our classrooms for some time now, their use became key to our online transition this spring.
Sherman College-With school being taught on line, Elizabeth Hodges keeps up with her technique class at her home adjusting area watching a video by Dr. Mitzi. May 14, 2020. (John Byrum photo)
Under the guidance of the department of Teaching and Learning, the Sherman College faculty rallied, recording welcome videos, modifying course plans, creating learning modules, scheduling virtual office hours, and developing discussion boards. We issued iPads to our academic support staff members to facilitate online advising and coaching, and we also moved our counseling services online.
Students took the changes in stride. They organized study spaces at home, and they created schedules and time management plans to ensure their success. They kept their clubs going, and they continued to look for ways to help others by collecting food, making face masks, and connecting with seniors in local care facilities.
Sherman College staff adapted quickly to working from home as well. IT assessed needs, issued laptops, and created training programs, all while completing a successful website launch. We shifted our annual homecoming event to a fully virtual platform, which had never been done before, and attracted more than 600 attendees.
The college quickly designed virtual campus visits and created a video tour, as well as an online virtual orientation for new students. We developed an application for students to apply for aid through the CARES Act and assisted students with scheduling challenges. We also launched the Sherman Pride Student Emergency Fund and have since raised more than $30,000 to support students facing financial difficulties.
Because communications have been paramount during this time, we have shared COVID-related updates, developed a brand guide and several new publications, and initiated some lighthearted social media projects like story time with Sherman (employees reading their favorite children’s books) on Facebook and TikTok.
Dr. Princess Porter-Fowler leads a Palpation l class on campus on Tuesday July 28, 2020.
In mid-March, the college made the difficult decision to temporarily close its on-campus Chiropractic Health Center, which serves the Upstate with more than 25,000 patient visits each year. While closed, the Health Center created new safety procedures and ordered plenty of PPE and sanitizing supplies. Since reopening in June, the clinic has expanded its hours of service (Monday–Friday from 9–12 and 2–5) and has again begun welcoming new patients. The clinic maintains careful procedures to provide the safest environment possible for patients, students, and employees.
Sherman is currently operating at stage three of its four-stage reopening plan with safety, security, and student success at the forefront of all college actions. For summer quarter, we remain in a distance-learning module, but we have begun offering limited (and voluntary) live instruction on campus for certain hands-on courses. Fall plans (stage four) are being finalized as we continue to monitor state, local, and national recommendations, but Sherman aims to take a big step toward normal operations by increasing the number of face-to-face classes meeting on campus to about 50 percent.
So while these are indeed times of great uncertainty, Sherman College has chosen to embrace adaptation. Our successes have required flexibility, teamwork, patience and dedication. Despite the circumstances against us, we haven’t slowed down, and we are excited to continue caring for our local community and educating our country’s next generation of doctors of chiropractic. We look forward with great anticipation to what the future holds for Sherman College of Chiropractic as we approach our 50th anniversary in 2023.
Outreach & Communications Coordinator Job Description
The mission of Ten at the Top is to foster collaboration and increase collective capacity across the 10-county Upstate SC region around issues that impact economic vitality and quality of life. The Outreach & Communications Coordinator is responsible for coordinating communication, marketing, and community & partner outreach for the organization. In addition, the Program & Events Coordinator will serve a supporting role around TATT events and community initiatives.
- Bachelor’s Degree
- Minimum of five years of full-time work experience in a professional setting
- Writing and editing proficiency
- Experience with online newsletter tools and web site maintenance
- Proficiency with Microsoft Office products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher)
- Familiarity with graphic design and desktop publishing tools
- Attention to detail and the ability to produce quality work in a timely manner
- Ability to manage multiple projects or initiatives at one time
- Ability to work independently and accomplish tasks with minimal daily supervision
- Strong organizational, customer service, and networking skills
- Manage the content and development of TATT weekly & monthly electronic publications
- Maintain and regularly update the TATT web site
- Coordinate organizational content & outreach on all social media platforms
- Build relationships with media, TATT partners and board members
- Lead the development of in-house publications
- Write business & community features, program summaries, press releases, and support material as needed
- Serve as the primary media contact for the organization
- Develop & implement an organizational marketing & communications strategy
- Represent organization in a professional manner at meetings and community events
- Availability to attend occasional early morning or evening events, as well as some travel across the Upstate
- Coordinate outreach efforts, including networking events, special projects and one-time events
- Full-time 40-hour per week salaried position
- Salary Range: $42,000-$50,000 (depending on experience and background)
- Benefits include company health insurance, paid vacation, cell phone stipend, and paid holidays
- Applications will be accepted until position is filled
Interested candidates should send cover letter, resume, and writing/web site/newsletter samples to: