Welcome David Field, TATT Vice Chairman
Liz Seman, Furman University & Greenville County Council
- COVID-19 emergency management team is meeting weekly since January, now meeting twice a week—first priority was faculty and students who were studying abroad, had to get them home
- Quickly pivoted to online learning, faculty changed methods of instruction
- Contacted host companies who had contracted with interns to see if they could do it remotely
- A virtual graduation was held May 9th and look forward to celebrating seniors this fall
- Summer classes will be held online, including OLLI classes, and camps/conferences are canceled
- The focus is on opening in the fall, but doing so in the safest way possible—if we can’t do it safely, we’ll continue online, but the essence of the Furman experience is the on-campus experience, so we want to be able to do that
- Furman has supported students through philanthropy, distributing more than $100K in emergency aid to students in need
- Furman is Greenville’s university and a vital part of the Upstate, and we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can not only for our Furman family but for the broader community
Business Recovery Task Force:
- Collaboration between Greenville city, Greenville County, Greenville Chamber, and JEC with representatives across all sectors
- Purpose is four-fold: identifying needs of business community as it relates to recovery, to share best practices on recover, to define each partner’s role and how they can be helpful, and identifying programs to help address the needs that we see
- Launched the Greater Greenville Pledge, which is a marketing campaign aimed at restoring consumer confidence—businesses pledge to open based on CDC and DHEC recommendations for social distancing, etc.
- Greenville County is the only county in SC to qualify for the CARES act, receiving $91 million for small business support, housing and rent assistance, and public health needs
- Money must be spent by December 31st, cannot be used to replace lost revenue, must be related to COVID-19
- Council will be voting in the near future on deployment of the funds
John Lummus, Upstate SC Alliance
- No set date for starting back, looking at plans for how we re-enter
- Executive community has been meeting, board is staying focused, first ever Zoom board meeting next week
- Recruiting strategy coming out of the pandemic: target industry study, sharing recruiting plan with business development groups
- We’re a manufacturing region, companies are going to be looking to on-shore, looking to manufacture in the U.S., we’ll be able to take advantage of that
- Call with SC Works, conversations with the SC Technical College System—president Dr. Tim Hardy will be speaking on an investor Zoom call on May 27th
- PPE is an area that we’ll see a lot of activity, have had a lot of companies switch over to that, which will make us a good area as companies start looking
- Prospect activity has remained steady, moving forward, we’ll look to recruit pharmaceutical and life sciences/medical device companies
- Food manufacturing will also be a big industry that we’ll be focusing on
- Unable to travel—9 total trips canceled, so doing a lot of Zoom, phone calls, emails with prospects to stay active
- MoveUp initiative: will shift from talent attraction to help internal people to connect with jobs, but with talent attraction, large city residents/companies might want to move
- Updating marketing pieces
- One of the best things out of the last few months is the connections made with the local economic development professionals—we were meeting once every two months in person, now we’re meeting weekly on Zoom with all 10 counties and 6 cities, sharing best practices and talking about how we can collaborate
TATT Updates Dean Hybl, Sharon Purvis & Erin Ouzts
- Updates on Teach at the Top—hoping to launch the web portal for teacher recruitment within the month
- Justine Allen interviews on senior issues—those can be seen here
- Michael Hildebrand of the Upstate Alliance has also been hosting Zoom interviews and will have a movie screening/panel discussion on May 28th
- County Virtual Listening Tour: As we’re moving from crisis to recovery, we wanted to hear what the challenges and opportunities are in each of the seven non-urban counties of the Upstate
- Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem (Erin Ouzts): Final webinar session this past Tuesday, May 12th was a roundtable session about how to best support business owners in pivoting to different business models. Storytelling workgroup will contact media about companies that were prepared and were able to pivot. All past webinar videos available here.
Cherokee County – Ken Moon, Cherokee County Economic Development
- 69 industrial companies that we talk to regularly, but that communication is now all at once, so it’s a challenge to manage and make sure everyone is responded to
- Cherokee County companies are very resilient, many have pivoted to making PPEs
- There were some layoffs at the beginning but most have brought workers back
- Dollar Tree distribution center hired 100 additional workers, contacted Ken about sending laid off workers to them
Greenwood County – David Dougherty, Greenwood County Chamber
- Collaborating with the city, county, and uptown association
- Biggest need is driving customers to businesses, so they’re looking at providing advertising
- The chamber will be providing a seminar on employment law and workforce issues
- Also seeing manufacturers shift to PPE, which nonprofit groups have been asking for
Spartanburg County – Patty Bock, City of Spartanburg Economic Development
- COVID-19 reveals strengths and weaknesses
- Spartanburg Economic Development Office has build strong relationships with community partners
- Working on evaluation plan for what things will be like when we open back up
- Biggest challenge is revenue
- Construction is up, projects are ongoing, RFPs are up
- The Amplify program (for minority-owned businesses) has an all-women cohort of 14 going through the program now—20% of businesses in Spartanburg are African American owned
Other counties are providing a positive update and community challenge shared by Sharon Purvis:
- Tim Hall, City of Abbeville:
Encouraged by: On May 1st the City assisted with the distribution of food with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina to citizens in the area in need. Around 300 vehicles came through the line to get food at the Abbeville County administration building site and the food ran out in around 2 hours. The City of Abbeville provided safety support as well as assisted with packaging boxes to be distributed by the National Guard. The National Guard, City and County staff were present to assist with the process.
Additionally, one of our local Businesses began a campaign to raise funds to promote all three (3) County High school 2020 seniors with individual Banners to be displayed in Calhoun Falls, Due West and Abbeville . The funding for this campaign was achieved in six hours. The Banners were installed last week and will stay up until the week of May 25th when they will be taken down and presented to each student at their perspective graduations at the end of the week. (28th-29th)
Challenge: Tim says he doesn’t feel that they have any challenges that anyone else isn’t dealing with.
- Terence Roberts, Mayor of Anderson:
Encouraged by: I’m proud of the way our community has prepared for the pandemic. We ramped up for the surge that hasn’t not happened to the degree that we prepared. It has forced us to continue breaking down the silos and work together.
Challenge: The challenge for our city is the continued struggles of our small business owners. Particularly, I’m worried about some of our legacy businesses.
- Whitney Hanna, Greenville County Schools:
Encouraging: The school district got approval from the USDA to distribute breakfast and lunch for all 7 days of the week (on Friday they get 3 breakfasts and 3 lunches for the weekend), to any child under 18 in Greenville County, whether they’re registered in Greenville County schools or not. Tomorrow or Monday they will distribute their one millionth meal since the shutdown started.
Challenging: Planning for different scenarios as they look to the fall, not knowing how things will look at that point. Also, and this is something that all school districts are facing, it’s been a challenge to figure out how to properly celebrate our seniors.
- Jonathan Irick, Main Street Laurens:
Encouraging: We are encouraged that during the COVID-19 shut down, our community rallied around Main Street and our small businesses. At this time, we have not permanently lost any businesses as many pivoted into a somewhat different business model. After Monday, the majority of our businesses will be reopened in some capacity.
Challenging: Our one challenge is the waiting game of how our events will look in the future. We have cancelled one event at this point and all the rest are in a holding pattern. Current conditions and guidelines make it almost impossible to hold in person events, however, our businesses tell us what they need most is customers. We have encouraged them to use online sales etc, but getting people outside their doors is also key.
- JoAnn Johnson, Oconee County Chamber of Commerce:
Encouraging: I’m encouraged by the level of teamwork and flexibility that I’ve seen in our community. People are truly rising to the challenge and putting others ahead of themselves.
Challenging: There is nothing normal about this “new normal,” and people are having to really dig deep into their well of creativity to make things work.
- Jeremy Price, United Way of Pickens County:
Encouraging: United Way of Pickens County is strongly encouraged by the generosity of the people of Pickens County. The total amount raised so far is
- United Way of Pickens County COVID-19 Fund $121,085
- Tornado Relief Fund $25,781
- United Way of South Carolina One SC Fund $60,000
Again, all of these funds are being distributed to local agencies in Pickens County.
Challenging: A challenge right now is reactivating our VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program. We had to suspend the program due to social distancing guidelines. We are currently working on a plan to submit to the I.R.S. where we will have a drive-thru tax service where clients can drop off their return from their car to be prepared by one of our volunteer tax preparers. The client will then come back at a later date to pick up the completed return. We feel like this process will minimize contact for our clients as well as volunteers. Tax preparation and completing tax returns is important for our clients so that they can receive the credits and refunds that so many people in our community need right now.
- Reita Drinkwine, Union County Library System:
Encouraging: I’m encouraged by the willingness of our many agencies to work together to overcome the hardships our community is currently and will be facing.
Challenging: education has been one of our biggest challenges, and now with the lack of internet access and reduction in services, there will be some tremendous barriers for portions of our communities, especially among families with children in K-3rd grade, since that’s such a crucial age for learning. We’ll need to rally together and pull more resources in support of education, in addition to the school district’s efforts. (38% of our community does not have internet and 1 in 4 don’t have a computer).
Adjourn David Feild