As we reach the midway point of 2021, I think the saying “everything old is new again” seems to be quite appropriate.
After spending a year communicating virtually, interacting in-person is finally on the way back. Though it seemed a bit strange and uncomfortable at first, in recent weeks in-person gatherings have become more frequent and it has definitely been nice to handshake, fist-bump and hug after a year of focusing on not being on mute when talking during a virtual meeting.
While we are starting to gravitate back to familiar territory, we certainly must remain diligent in relation to the ongoing threats from the COVID-19 pandemic.
If the last 16 months have taught me anything, it is that every situation is fluid and what seems set in stone today could be wiped out like a sandcastle on the beach by tomorrow.
As a non-profit focused on building regional capacity through collaboration and development of community partnerships, the last 16 months has certainly included logistical challenges, but also has proven to be a fruitful time for the development of partnerships that could have long-lasting impact in addressing key Upstate issues.
Since the pandemic began in March 2020, TATT has utilized multiple communication platforms to connect people, organizations and communities to resources and information. As a result of this intentional focus, TATT has engaged with more people through electronic communications and virtual platforms than in any previous period in the history of the organization.
In addition to focusing on connecting people to information, TATT has also continued to convene stakeholders from across the region to address issues impacting economic vitality and quality of life in the region.
During the first half of 2021, this focus has resulted in a number of specific community successes as well as deployment of regional resources and initiatives that are helping build capacity in multiple areas.
- Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem: Launched the Start-Grow Upstate regional website that serves as a searchable repository for services for someone looking to start or grow a business in the Upstate.
- Upstate Mobility Alliance: Supported efforts by Greenwood County to start on-demand public transit service in the county. Service began on July 1st.
- Also working with Abbeville County and Cherokee County on developing public transit and Spartanburg County on ride-sharing program.
- Launched new MOVE neighborhood program to promote multi-model mobility options within communities in the Upstate. Currently conducting pilot program in West Greenville.
- Upstate Professional Planners: Completed an analysis of the state-mandated comprehensive plans for the 10 Upstate counties as well as the cities of Greenville and Spartanburg.
- Creating a Safer Upstate: Coordinated “Have a Safe Summer” end of school year student-law enforcement engagements at 11 schools across the Upstate
- Conducting a Survey of Upstate Police Departments to get inventory of Community Outreach efforts across the region.
There is no doubt that much has changed across our communities, state, country and globe over the last 16 months, but one thing that has not changed is the importance of working collaboratively to address issue that have components that are larger than can be addressed by individual communities, organizations or businesses. As we look forward to the second half of 2021, TATT will continue to cultivate a multi-teared approach where we use in-person meetings, workshops and activities, virtual meetings and electronic communications platforms to convene, connect and continue to grow the collective capacity of the Upstate region.