Welcome David Feild, TATT Vice Chair
Guest Presentation: Jeff Brown, VP of Marketing and Sponsorships, Greenville Drive
In addition to appearing as our guest presenter, Jeff also wrote a guest post on the Staying on Top blog called “Down but Definitely Not Out.” You can read it here.
- This was supposed to be the Greenville Drive’s 15th anniversary year, but will celebrate next year.
- Our season was initially delayed; then, a few weeks ago, the entire season was cancelled. There is the economic challenges and then the missed opportunity to tell our anniversary stories this year.
- Unique business model – early Apr through labor day we have about 70 games; we host amateur games and events as well. Becoming more of a year-round model but we are really funded by the baseball season. So when first college sports then the Drive season cancelled and now large events are cancelled. Analogy: huge restaurant with no customers. We have no ability to ramp up, we are either ON or OFF. There is no foot traffic. No one is coming in to the stadium. Impact on our business model specifically is more harsh.
- There is not a guarantee for next year’s season given the unknowns with COVID but we are hopeful.
- We are in survival mode now. Looking toward next season. Our team has done really well facing this. We consider ourselves “the front porch” of Greenville. People can gather, talk, come together. We have done a solid job of doing that over the past few weeks. Partnered with United Way, Harvest Hope; hosted a few graduation events; PPE pickup with Blue Cross dental equipment. We are trying to be a cog for good in the community in any way we can.
- 15 years is a long time to be here; so many relationships with people/businesses, etc. So many people have asked how they can help. We are not going anywhere, we are focused on staying the course. The level of support from everyone has been humbling. For the organization, my family, …. To see the stories and feedback is motivating. Want to thank everyone for the support. Extremely challenging time but also motivating time.
- We also had to deal with contraction/elimination of minor teams across the country. The Drive are not going anywhere. There are 160 teams in minor league baseball. Not all have facilities like ours; a city like Greenville, There are issues with travel time, access, etc. but the Drive is not going anywhere. Relationship with Red Sox is the model for everyone else. There will be minor league baseball in Greenville for years to come. There may be some reshuffling of some teams in the league, but not affecting the Drive.
Question (David Field): what challenges, have you been able to qualify for PPP support from the govt? Any reductions of force?
Yes. PPP has been helpful for a staffing perspective. We have tried hard to create positions where people stay, baseball is like entertainment…lots of employees roll through quickly. We have zero revenue right now. We did furlough people and hope to bring them back when a full season returns. Due to high covid numbers we cannot even host small other events.
Question: You guys are missed. How are your players? Is your player roster intact?
Yes, that is the other arm of this. We control our agreement with the Red Sox but player decisions, pay, schedule is all controlled by Red Sox. We do not control personnel of the team. We are more “entertainment” side of it, once the players come we make sure everything goes smoothly and works well. They are keeping spare 30 players in Pawtucket right now – they can replace a player who is sick with covid. So not everyone is employed right now.
Question (Dean): With MLB, they’re able to play games without fans because of TV and ad revenue from that, but minor league ball doesn’t have that angle. Was there any conversation about playing without fans in the minor leagues?
Right. Major league is starting up next week for a full season—it works because of TV. For us, we are only a live model—we need people in the seats, buying food. Majors are going to have a time matching up with city’s health requirements, etc.
Question (Dean): You have had great social media presence; what are some of the plans you have now with the team over the next couple of months to continue to be relevant? Loved the shirt you guys sold about the “undefeated 2020 season.”
The shirt was a fun idea—might as well find humor. There are about 10 of us here now; we are trying to think of things to do. We are trying to push masks—we want people healthy and we want things back to normal as soon as possible. It is just surveying how we can help the community the most and then helping. How can we be a force for good?
Question (Sharon): Today is Shoeless Joe Jackson’s birthday—is the museum separate from you guys?
Yes, there is a Board which includes his relatives, that runs it. Joe’s house (now museum) is next to the field and being moved up to the top of the street. Field St is going to be turned in to a pedestrian “Yawkey Way” with food trucks, games, etc.—like Yawkey in Boston.
Poll: What’s Your Mask Style?
Just for fun, tell us about your mask style
- It’s disposable, wear it and toss it: 28%
- Someone special made me a homemade mask: 28%
- I bought a really cool mask: 44%
Face mask style, part 2. Your mask is:
- Plain: 40%
- Colorful: 40%
- Branded: 20%
Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem Update Erin Ouzts, UEE Coordinator
- Preparing support providers, talking about the conversation about small businesses having financial records
- August: local communities helping businesses being more resilient
- Best practices during the fall
- Another series: “Start to Grow”—informational videos that people can search for to provide resources
Abbeville/Greenwood: Marisel Losa, United Way of Greenwood and Abbeville Counties
- Applied for funds to put towards food insecurity: Lakelands food and hunger alliance, also working on emergency response
- Masks, testing have been at the forefront of conversations. We did receive a large number of masks that are available to people who need them.
- Mental health and wellbeing platform: Greenwood Credible Mind
- Also looking at bringing community together to have conversations around the virus, racial reconciliation, etc. with Greenwood Counts, a data platform. More information to come about that.
Cherokee: Teresa Spires, KNOW(2)
- Keep students/parents engaged in education, broadband access is a big part of that. Fiscal agent for another nonprofit that will create hotspots and tutoring centers
- Expansion of BGen in Gaffney
- Working with the census, trying to encourage, 11th in the state (although SC is 46th in the country)
- Finished community indicators update, working on releasing to the public
Spartanburg: Todd Horne, Clayton Construction, representing the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce
- Bringing Back the Burg campaign has raised $538,000
- Partnership with the hospital for the COVID pledge, 126 businesses have signed up saying they will take certain safety steps and offer masks/hand sanitizer, and they can post a plaque indicating their participation
- Lots of economic development projects going on
- Allen Smith—hospitality tax revenues higher than last year, sales taxes up, building permits up
Union: Rieta Drinkwine, Union County Library
- Census hub at the library—events to encourage participation
- Americorps Vista working on period poverty / basic needs—donation of 8 large boxes. Also partnering with United Way and Union Medical Center. Supplies are donated to the school district
- Broadband expansion—fiber, meets educational standards, can be leveraged for economic development
- Working with Detention Center, using grant money, they are going to do training/re-entry work.
- Another conversation now is how do we adjust rec programs to be able to provide safe free activities in our county. Spartanburg Library did an outdoor drive in movie, we hope to also do that. Keeping in mind that there is COVID, but that everyone needs a healthy enriched life.