James Bennett, Founder, Upstate Home Health Care Solutions
If you’ve ever been to a theme park, you know that roller coasters are generally the main attraction. In order to appeal to everyone, most parks have varying degrees of roller coasters ranging from the kiddie rides to those that nearly defy gravity. Usually, the thrill of the roller coaster ride lasts no more than 5 minutes; however, for the life of an entrepreneur, they experience the emotional ride of a roller coaster every day. In 2011, I made that leap into entrepreneurship when I started my home care company. There have been many loops, dips, twists, highs & lows on this entrepreneur journey and I have discovered a few essentials that will hopefully help the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Stay focused on the why! There is a plethora of reasons why entrepreneurs start their own business. Desire to build something from the ground up, corporate burn out, financial independence, solving a new problem, bad experience from a service or product and thought they could do it better, etc. No matter the reason, one of the keys to success is to always remember why you started your business. This is especially important in the start-up phase of your business. The road to building something great is long…. very long and it will challenge you physically, emotionally, and financially. It’s important to keep your “why” ever before you to help through the challenges you will face in operating your business.
Don’t Be the Hero! Everyone loves a great movie; especially when the hero is able to overcome incredible odds to achieve the goal. Every movie, no matter the genre, are structured the same way. Each movie has a hero, a nemesis, and a mentor/guide. The sooner an entrepreneur understands they are not hero, the more likely they are to succeed. No matter if you are providing a service or producing a product, the role of your business is to be the guide for your client/customer. Your clients are the heroes and you are there simply help them write their own story.
Utilize your community resources! As the business grows, you will experience challenges and face obstacles that may seem insurmountable; but remember you don’t have to face those challenges alone. There are resources in the community to help guide you through these obstacles so you are not re-inventing the wheel. These resources include but are not limited to the Small Business Development Center, local chamber of commerce, and Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE). The sole purpose of these organizations is to equip, educate, & encourage small businesses to be successful in their industry. They are available to help the entrepreneur overcome challenges and assist in creating strategic plans to help grow your business.
Establish your team! As an owner, you bring certain strengths to your business. You’ve developed that strength whether through your professional career, educational background, or just natural ability. However, when consider building your team, build your team around your weakness and add people based on their ability to fit within your company culture vs only their skill. Having a diverse team and a company culture where team members can thrive in their strengths can produce dynamic results.
Never Stop Learning! As an entrepreneur, your employees are depending on your leadership. You are the person that is setting the direction and providing the vision for the company. Your employees need you to be best version of you; therefore, you should never stop learning. One of the best investments you can make is to invest in yourself. The most economical way is to read books that will stimulate your growth. It’s been said that all readers are not leaders but all leaders are readers. Attend conferences, workshops, and seminars that are specific to your industry to discover innovative strategies to grow your business. Also consider attending conferences on leadership development to ensure you are becoming the best leader you can be as well as attain the skills to train the leaders in your organization.
Define your success! Quite often, society dictates the definition of success. Usually, it is based on some quantifiable factor such as gross sales, net profit, number of locations, number of employees, etc. These factors are great and are necessary for growth; however, have you truly defined what is success to you? Have you ever asked yourself what makes you happy? What gives you joy? When are you most satisfied? What does success look like and how will you know when you reached it? These are just a few questions any entrepreneur should asked themselves to determine their own definition of success. “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out you own inner voice, heart and intuition” – Steve Jobs.
Upstate SC Alliance launches regional gateway to technical training programs
Although the coronavirus pandemic has slowed some areas of the economy, within many sectors, businesses continue to grow. A new Upstate initiative highlights those sectors and seeks to connect unemployed or underemployed individuals with short-term training programs that can place them in an in-demand career.
The platform, Skill Up, is a one-stop shop for individuals to explore the earning potential, projected growth, and training programs available for an array of in-demand careers that can be obtained with 12 months or less of technical training. In many cases, financial support is available for these programs.
Occupations on display range from information technology specialist to pharmacy technician to commercial truck driver — and, among the in-demand occupations featured on the site, there have been 46,899 job postings in the last 12 months, with an average earning potential for in-demand careers of $72,037.
The platform was created by the Upstate SC Alliance in partnership with the Upstate’s technical colleges: Greenville Technical College, Tri-County Technical College, Spartanburg Community College and Piedmont Technical College.
“Our goal is to inspire individuals to acquire new skills for better paying, more resilient in-demand jobs and connect people with programs available at the Upstate’s technical colleges that can launch their careers,” says Upstate SC Alliance President & CEO John Lummus.
The site emphasizes training programs that can be completed in between two and 12 months, informed by Strada Education Network research.
Strada finds that millions of American adults are aspiring learners, though two-thirds of those considering enrolling in education prefer non-degree pathways.
What’s more: fewer than one in three adults without degrees say they understand the available career pathways, valuable skills, and details about potential education programs “very well.”
Skill Up is an extension of the Move Upstate SC website and brand, which were launched in 2019 to attract individuals to professional jobs in the Upstate.
“The goal of Move Up has always been to connect employers and talent. And, the pandemic has presented an opportunity to address the skills gap by shining a light on those sectors that have remained resilient,” Lummus adds.
“Skill Up recognizes that the pandemic’s challenges may present an opportunity for some individuals to pursue new avenues. From hands-on manufacturing roles to network configuration to patient support, these careers have staying power and play an important role in our community.”
Explore Skill Up here: www.skillupsc.com
See more on Move Up here: https://moveupstatesc.com/
Erin Ouzts, Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem Director
Global Entrepreneurship Week is even more important this year as we celebrate the small, large, starting and growing businesses and their owners that have worked tirelessly to keep employees and provide all of us with the products and services we need.
The week of November 16-22, 2020, Global Entrepreneurship Week, is an annual celebration of entrepreneurship organized by the Global Entrepreneurship Network. The Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem (UEE) launched Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) activities in November 2018 as a way for Upstate communities to celebrate their local businesses and connect to the entire Upstate through a common theme and brand.
In 2020, Upstate communities are focusing activities on more virtual celebrations and other non-event ways to honor entrepreneurs. We are asking local city and county councils to proclaim a resolution to support GEW, their local business owners and the many support organizations that guide them. Ask your Mayor or County Council leader if they are aware of this. If not, download a template resolution here and contact Justine Allen for more information.
Upstate universities are celebrating and competing with colleges, universities and technical schools statewide on the first ever SC Innovates Pitch Competition. Beyond student participation, multiple entrepreneur advisors and mentors around the state are judging the entries, bringing two different groups together for the common purpose of celebrating GEW.
USC Upstate will have the first ever international sharing of ideas with entrepreneurs and innovators as they host Universidad Latina De Costa Rica in a virtual panel discussion. CommunityWorks is partnering with USC Upstate to host another panel discussion, this one on Supporting Black Women-owned Business: Innovative Strategies for Growth and Overcoming Challenges.
Furman Innovation and Entrepreneurship will host the final Paladin Pivot: Connecting with Your Customers Faster and More Efficiently during Global Entrepreneurship Week. They were also instrumental in launching the SC Innovates Pitch Competition. Other events will be included in the UpstateVibe356 calendar.
InnoVision Awards is hosting their annual awards celebration during GEW. This is the premier innovation awards recognition in South Carolina. Register here.
The South Carolina Community Loan Fund’s Investing in Community Summit Series: Resources for South Carolina’s Small Businesses will host a statewide panel discussion with the moderator and 2 panelists from the Upstate.
In 2018, the UEE celebrated with gatherings, panel discussions, speakers, and social media promotions of local entrepreneurs. 2019 continued that success with multiple events spread over the Upstate. Here is a link to the USC Upstate Johnson College of Business video of their 2018 GEW activities.
In 2020, the Director of the State Office of Innovation in the State Department of Commerce, Laura Corder, became an official State Coordinator through GEN and has local coordinators within the state facilitating activities. Celebrations are spreading throughout the state, so much so, that we now have our own Global Entrepreneurship Week South Carolina log!
GEW is about more that the Upstate and South Carolina. Events occur all over the world and are more accessible than ever this year with so many going virtual. Access the global GEW Events calendar here and sign up for an event today!
According to their website, Global Entrepreneurship Week is a collection of tens of thousands of activities, competitions and events aimed at making it easier for anyone, anywhere to start and scale a company.
This November 16 – 22, GEW 2020 will rally almost every nation in the world to empower their entrepreneurs and encourage their citizens to become starters – finding new and better ways of doing things. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its unprecedented impact, GEW 2020 is a call to action for all societies to be resilient and come together in leveraging the power of new ideas and innovation for the benefit of all.
GEW inspires roughly 10 million participants each year to explore their potential while fostering connections and increasing collaboration within their ecosystems to empower entrepreneurs and strengthen communities.
While cities, counties, businesses and organizations across the Upstate continue to address public health and economic issues related to the global pandemic, Ten at the Top remains committed to serving as a regional convener and connector to help support local efforts and grow the Upstate’s collective capacity.
To help better understand the concerns and challenges being faced by communities across the Upstate, Ten at the Top recently completed a “Listening Tour” of the seven non-urban counties in the region (all counties except Anderson, Greenville and Spartanburg). Each session included input from leaders from local governments, community organizations, businesses and other local stakeholders.
While each county had its own nuances and distinct approach to responding to the pandemic, there were a number of similarities across the region.
- Most encouragingly, each county reported that overall the response to provide needed services to those facing immediate hardship has been successful in meeting the general needs of all residents, including children, seniors and college students. Another commonality has been a collaborative spirit as many local entities, including some that had not previously worked together, have collaborated to meet the needs of local residents.
- Communication has been an important element and communities have used a variety of methods to ensure that residents are aware of programs as well as health services. Social media has played an important role in many communities, but with a significant portion of residents in rural counties not serviced by high speed internet, that approach has not reached all residents.
- Accessible and affordable internet was a theme across the region. In some communities, school buses were deployed to help residents connect to internet, especially to assist students. However, with transportation also being an issue for some residents, reaching an internet hot spot was not always possible.
- With many businesses shut down for an extended period of time due to the stay-at-home order issued by Governor McMaster, there is great concern about how quickly small businesses can recover. Many communities have worked with business service agencies to help ensure their business owners are able to connect to government support programs developed to reduce the impacts on local businesses. In addition, many local business organizations have been providing marketing and promotional support for local businesses.
- One interesting commonality among the communities is that while COVID-19 has spotlighted issues including internet accessibility and fragility of small businesses in rural communities, there are also a number of issues that were of concern prior to COVID-19 that remain priorities across the Upstate.
- Mobility and lack of transportation access has become a regional priority in recent years, especially for many residents of rural communities who are unable to improve their personal economic mobility due to lack of access to transportation. Skill training also remains an issue in many Upstate counties as the technical colleges, Workforce Boards and others continue to provide a critical service to help people gain skills needed for higher paying jobs.
During each session, members of the Ten at the Top team asked a specific set of questions around the topics of general collaboration, economic development & small businesses, infrastructure & mobility and social services, public health and education. Below are composite summaries of the general feedback heard across the region. You can also read each of the county specific summaries through this link.
For all counties except for Cherokee, participants were provided with a series of poll questions and asked to rank on a scale of 1–10 (I being not at all met and 10 being totally met) their impression on the response for each category.
|Number of Responses|| ||7||2||10||15||8||12||9|
|When it comes to social services and health care in your county, how do you feel your community’s personal well-being needs have been met?||Avg.||8||8||7||8||8||7|
|Within your county, how do you feel the needs of your manufacturers and other larger employers have been met?||Avg.||7||7||8||8||9||8||7|
|Within your county, how do you feel the needs of your restaurants and retail stores have been met?||Avg.||6||6||6||7||6||6|
|Within your county, how do you feel the needs of your local (non-chain or franchise) small businesses and entrepreneurs have been met?||Avg.||6||6||6||6||7||6||5|
|Within your county, how do you feel the needs of your schools, colleges, and universities have been met?||Avg.||6||7||7||8||8||7|
|Within your county, how do you feel the needs of your local and county governments have been met?||Avg.||7||6||7||8||8||7|
Questions asked by Dean Hybl, Executive Director
What role has collaboration played in communities across the Upstate as they respond to COVID-19?
Whether it be previously developed collaborative partnerships or ones created specifically to collectively respond to COVID-19, collaboration has clearly been critical in all communities during the pandemic. Collaboration has been used by different communities to share information, identify resources and implement needed services. The result has been a general feeling in most Upstate counties that the response to COVID-19 has been a team effort with everyone playing their own specific role in the effort.
Are there any examples of communities being pro-active in their approaches?
Prior to COVID-19, Pickens County had passed a state of emergency ordinance that called for city agencies to automatically coordinate with each other during a state of emergency. As a result, when a number of agencies had limited day-to-day work due to COVID-19, those employees were repurposed to help the community in various ways, including distributing meals on wheels, collecting food and assisting the United Way.
Economic Development & Small Business
Questions asked by Erin Ouzts, Entrepreneur Ecosystem Coordinator
In general, what was the state of small businesses & entrepreneurs in the Upstate prior to COVID-19 and how does that set things up for recovery? Generally growing, expanding and starting to thrive. Many new businesses getting started.
What were some of the major impacts seen by small businesses during COVID-19? Closings and shifting to curb-side delivery. Scrambling to understand and get PPP and EIDL loans. How to get funding for under-the-table workers and non-legally-registered organizations. Exposure of their lack of understanding of internet usage to get information and post updated information. Challenges that came with not knowing where or how to look for and find information. Lack of clean/updated financial documents led to extra work by banks and accountants. Having fast enough internet at home, or even access at all, hampered attempts to do online activities.
Please share any unique programs or support efforts that were undertaken across the region. $75k spent on advertising for “shop local”; technology audit; community-based loan funds popping up everywhere. Sandwich board signs for downtown businesses.
What established resources were most helpful to small businesses & entrepreneurs during the crisis? SBDC, Chambers, county and city economic development organizations
What was the general experience and challenges around utilizing EIDL & PPP programs? Scrambling to understand PPP and EIDL loans. Not having a big-bank relationship. How to get funding for under-the-table workers and non-legally-registered organizations. Challenges that came with not knowing where or how to look for and find information. Lack of clean/updated financial documents led to extra work by banks and accountants. Banks trying to process applications and answer questions while the rules were still being decided.
Is there a general lesson that COVID-19 has taught local communities and/or small business owners? Have the business of our business in order (legal, financial, accounting); be nimble and able to shift resources to maximize opportunity for revenue quickly; know how to use the internet, social media, etc. to post AND find updated information.
In general, how have manufacturers and larger employers fared during COVID-19? Most have fared well. They are moving to smaller groups of employees at a time and are adjusting for social distancing. Seems that other than getting through to unemployment office, getting the unemployment insurance was something most employees pursued.
Share examples of best practice efforts by counties to support manufacturers. SBDC weekly information sessions and webinars. SBDC phone meetings and ability to set appointments online, plus loan programs, help with setting guidelines.
Please share any potential programs, collaborative efforts or other initiatives that could be implemented to support communities, businesses & entrepreneurs across the region. Community loan programs, technology training, advertising and promotion support, additional social media campaigns by city and chambers, webinars on how-to proceed through and implement the many changes.
Infrastructure & Mobility
Questions asked by Michael Hildebrand, Director, Upstate Mobility Alliance
Provide a general overview of rural mobility challenges in the Upstate. Generally speaking, the mobility challenges in our rural communities are focused in two areas: a lack of accessible public transportation options and minimal infrastructure such as sidewalks and bike lanes. These challenges limit access to work, medical, and other community resources.
What are some of the specific challenges related to mobility? Several communities currently do not have access to any public transportation system. In other communities that have a public transportation system, often these systems do not serve the entire county which leaves areas without any transit option. An additional challenge is the lack of transportation to educational opportunities. Finally, the lack of safe walking and biking paths limits access to employment opportunities.
As employees return to work, what have been some of the challenges to overcome? Communities are finding that financial and educational literacy is a challenge to returning to work. Additionally, since most information about job postings and work opportunities are online, the ability to communicate with potential workers has been an issue in communities that lack strong internet availability. Finally, finding transportation options to get to work has been a challenge.
What has been the experience around broad band across the Upstate? The lack of widely available broadband service is a major issue for most rural communities. Where broadband is available, the cost is a barrier for individual users.
Please share any potential regional efforts that could help support infrastructure and mobility challenges in rural areas across the Upstate. Efforts that provide education on the basics of computer and internet use would be helpful, especially as it relates to looking for job opportunities. Also help in identifying potential transportation solutions would be beneficial.
Social Services, Education, Health
Questions asked by Justine Allen, Events & Program Coordinator
Overall, what role did school districts play in supporting social service needs of students during COVID-19?
School districts provided meals, either by bus at schools and other drop off points, or by direct delivery to homes. School districts provided wi-fi hot spots for downloading of e-learning materials at schools and other central locations.
Schools made guidance counselors available, but not being able to spend time in person with students is expected to take a toll, as this is how concerns generally arise to be addressed.
Union Reads (Union High School program) is partnering with SCC on virtual parent literacy classes, including financial literacy.
What were some of the challenges faced by colleges/universities?
Some students were unable to travel to their home state or country when the schools closed, so they were accommodated with housing and meals, either on campus or with families.
There are concerns about students being part of the local workforce and consumer economy. Many students are unable to work due to closures and unable to access stimulus funds because they are still dependents.
Lander University’s Foundation started a crisis fund. Students apply for a max of $300 in vouchers for rent, utilities, transportation, gas. They will continue to raise money for the fund.
Financial Aid offices working with students who are struggling.
Were there any best practice examples of communities coming together to support community needs?
- Covid for All in Cherokee started by several organizations working together in Cherokee.
- United Way partnered with YMCA in Greenwood to expand food program.
- Lakelands YMCA working with Laurens District 55 on a summer reading program and other initiatives tbd.
- SC Empowerment distributes food boxes in Laurens neighborhoods.
- Salvation Army in Pickens County assisting with funding, childcare, working with United Way.
- Meals to You (Baylor program) extended outreach to SC during school year.
What are some of the ongoing challenges, especially related to keeping people in their homes amid increased unemployment?
Initially food shortages were an issue. Now more assistance is being requested with mortgages, rent, and utility payments. Will funds be available moving forward?
Did communities provide specific programs to support seniors?
Through United Way and other organizations, counties provided some sort of meal assistance through access points and home delivery. Computer literacy is an issue so resources available have not always been accessed. Many food vouchers for fresh fruit and vegetables have not been requested so the assumption is that people do not know about them or are afraid to go out to pick them up. Some agencies put vouchers online for safely, but this posed a challenge because some seniors do not use or know how to use technology to find or access the vouchers.
How to reach seniors without using smartphones and internet?
Have any groups fallen through the cracks?
The only group identified was students of higher education.
What are some of the challenges, potential collaborative opportunities moving forward?
|Challenge||Potential Collaborative Opportunity|
|Dissemination of information||Counties get together to develop best practices for information distribution, including in times of disaster (no power)|
|Lack of internet access and affordability||Counties get together to develop plan, lobby state/fed, and implement universal installation and affordability of broadband|
|Seniors and technology||Scale up training for seniors—e.g.,coordinate getting appropriate people in the counties together and train their people so their people can train seniors.|
Just Call Bill mentioned as a resource
Andrea Smith at Senior Action also mentioned her staff doing lots of over the phone assistance.
|Transportation – getting to jobs, getting to schools to get meals and wi-fi, seniors getting to food access points||Mobility Alliance|
Next Steps & Future Opportunities
In general, the listening tour input reinforced that a number of the areas in which Ten at the Top has been focusing collaborative efforts including mobility & transportation, entrepreneur support and senior needs remain relevant during the current crisis.
Access to internet & broadband technology was also a major focus and while Ten at the Top will certainly support the continued expansion of availability across the region, that issue seems to have been identified as a state-wide issue that the state legislature will be focusing to address.
Below are some of the specific follow-up actions that TATT will be taking in the coming weeks to support some of the issues identified during the listening tour:
- Rural Mobility Listening Session: The Upstate Mobility Alliance’s Moving People Task Force will be holding a special virtual listening session on July 13th with representatives from rural communities to better learn about specific mobility & transportation challenges in the non-urban areas within the Upstate. Following this session, the committee will develop a strategy for how to move forward in supporting greater access to transportation in the rural areas within the Upstate.
- Entrepreneur & Small Business Webinar Series: To help address some of the specific challenges identified by entrepreneurs & small businesses, TATT’s Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem group will be holding a series of webinars with subject experts that will be available for viewing by small business owners & entrepreneurs. In addition, the group will continue to focus on “connecting the disconnected” with resources to help start and grow businesses in the Upstate.
- Senior Needs Workshops: Due to COVID-19, TATT has been unable to hold in-person Senior Needs Workshops through the first half of 2020. Beginning in August, we intend to hold virtual workshops to continue to connect senior service providers and to especially understand how to support their needs during the current pandemic.
In addition to these three specific efforts, TATT will continue to look for opportunities to support communities across the Upstate in other areas that are impacted by the pandemic and corresponding economic crisis.
By Dean Hybl, Executive Director, Ten at the Top
Given that the population for the Upstate region is projected to reach 1.75 million by 2040, it is not surprising that the recently released Census Bureau population estimate showed that the Upstate added nearly 20,000 new residents between July 2017 and July 2018.
There are certainly some who will read those numbers and suggest it is just further confirmation that we are growing too fast and need to shut the doors to make sure we maintain the quality of life for those already living here.
As someone who has lived in and studied regions struggling with declining population and economic crisis, it is my opinion that the great community vibrancy and strong economy here in the Upstate is directly tied to the fact that we are a region where people want to move and stay, thus resulting in consistent population growth over the last half century.
Changing policies to specifically discourage population growth would likely have unintended consequences that could directly contribute to a decline in economic viability and quality of life while likely having limited actual impact on the total population numbers for the region.
Instead of focusing on potential policies that could hamper positive growth, for more than a decade, leaders from across the Upstate have been promoting and encouraging efforts that embrace the Upstate as a vibrant and growing region—one that supports policies, investments and practices that help us shape future growth, instead of being shaped by it.
We are at a key juncture in the future of the Upstate. The increase in traffic congestion and land being used for development in many of our counties is now noticeable and starting to impact daily life and decisions across the region.
Fortunately, there are a number of opportunities for the Upstate today to significantly impact our future growth, without trying to limit the number of new residents within our communities.
How We Move People and Goods
Much of the discussion over the last decade in the Upstate and all of South Carolina around transportation has been focused on our deteriorating roads and bridges. The investment in improving our roads that was approved by our state legislators in 2017 was a key milestone, but was only one of many steps that must be taken if we want to efficiently and affordably move people and goods across the state for years to come.
Many local communities in South Carolina, but none in the Upstate, are enhancing their road maintenance and improvements with local financial support. Providing local funding is one way communities can ensure the most utilized roads within their community are able to keep up with traffic demand while remaining safe.
In the Upstate, 94% of people get to their daily job by using a personal vehicle. While we will likely never be able to create public transportation systems that can be used by everyone, just providing alternative transportation methods that reduce the number of people in the region who get to jobs using a personal vehicle to 85 or 90% would have a dramatic improvement on our roadways.
Providing Your Voice on Comprehensive Plans
The South Carolina statutes call for cities and counties to create and revise a comprehensive growth plan every ten years. These plans are designed to serve as a guide for communities to make decisions around appropriate growth within their community. Many of our communities are currently in the process of updating their plans.
Almost all elected officials regularly say that they make their decisions based on the input they receive from their constituents. One key element of the comprehensive plans is community input. If you have questions, concerns or ideas about how your community should try to shape local growth over the next decade, participating in one of the many meetings being held in your community is a great opportunity to share your insight.
If you are interested in the comprehensive planning process within your local city or county, I encourage you to check their web site for upcoming meetings and updates throughout the planning process.
Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
Nearly 90% of all workers in the United States and 95% in South Carolina work for businesses with 20 or fewer employees. Studies have also shown that being an entrepreneur or small business owner is one of the greatest ways for someone to advance their economic status and in many cases emerge from the historic cycle of poverty.
During a recent visit to the Upstate, Andy Stoll from the Kaufman Foundation said that the communities that will have the greatest overall economic success and stability are those that are able to create a culture where all potential entrepreneurs and small business owners are aware of and have access to what they need to be successful.
The Upstate region is fortunate to have a large number of entities that provide support for entrepreneurs and small business owners. There are many Upstate residents who have the potential to become small business owners, but are likely unaware of the resources available to them. Continuing to develop and enhance connections between available resources and potential small business owners and entrepreneurs is another opportunity for our region to help support growth while building a strong economic foundation that gives everyone opportunity.
Ultimately, what future we leave for our children and grandchildren will be determined by local and regional priorities and investments. Rather than turning our backs on growth and suffering the consequences, if we can embrace the fact that we are a vibrant and growing region and continue to have public dialogue and support investments that shape that growth in a positive and sustainable manner, we can ensure that the Upstate remains a leading place to live, learn, do business and raise a family for generations to come.
You can learn more about Ten at the Top and how you can become involved in regional growth initiatives at www.tenatthetop.org.
by Savannah Higgins, Ten at the Top Intern
Big changes are happening in Greer. One of South Carolina’s fastest growing cities is getting a major makeover. The project is known as “CenterG” for the synergy it will bring to Greer. Greer CPW has worked since the summer of 2017 to replace or rehabilitate sewer and water lines prior to the city’s work, giving much of the area known as Greer Station new underground utilities now.
In a recent article from the city of Greer, Greer City Administrator Ed Driggers mentioned, “This is one of those projects that we do about every 75 to 100 years and it just happens to be the time to do it,” he continued to mention that, “It is aging infrastructure and it will be a very complex project on which we are partnering with Greer CPW. We’ve been working with our downtown merchants for a couple of years now, advising and preparing them for this.”
In hopes of enhancing people’s experience downtown, the city is taking a design that is very unique. This new infrastructure will not be traditional—the design is called a shared street design. It has no curb and gutter and is a paver street rather than an asphalt street. Their goal is also to maintain two-way traffic for vehicles and pedestrian access in that area as well as parallel parking.
The streetscape will be funded by city resources. The $10.8 million-dollar project will include a shared street design, brick pavers, landscaping, new curb and gutters, ADA accessibility, and new lighting on Trade Street.
Matt Sossamon, Project Manager at Sossamon Construction Company, Inc., stated to Nickelle Smith of WSPA, “We’ve done a number of streetscapes throughout the Upstate —Daniel Morgan Square in Spartanburg, Fountain Inn, Abbeville, we’ve done a number of them.” He continued, “We understand the concern that the business owners have in the downtown and we’re going to do our best to minimize the inconvenience as much as possible.”
The city of Greer is encouraging folks to follow the construction process at www.futuregreer.com and is working to communicate that despite the construction, all businesses are open and we need to continue supporting them.