VisionGreenwood: Advancing Greenwood as a Community of Choice
VisionGreenwood is a community partner with a proven track record for providing leadership to enhance the quality of life in Greenwood through strategic long-term vision and collaborative community development initiatives. The non-profit, which evolved from the Foundation for a Greater Greenwood County, Inc., created more than 20 years ago to support the former Greenwood Partnership Alliance’s charitable operations. After thoughtful consideration, the board of directors rebranded the foundation last year to better reflect the organization’s purpose.
“By intent and design, VisionGreenwood continues to be a community partner that is focused on Greenwood’s future and its economic growth and development. We are more determined than ever to see that Greenwood emerges as one of the top living and working communities in South Carolina,” said Kay Self, Executive Director for VisionGreenwood.
What is now VisionGreenwood has invested more than $2.9 million into the community by supporting initiatives that provide economic prosperity and enhance the growth and success of Greenwood.
Vision: To make Greenwood the best community to live, work, and raise a family.
Mission: Providing leadership to enhance the quality of life in Greenwood through strategic long-term vision and collaborative community development initiatives.
Above all, VisionGreenwood exists to make Greenwood a community of choice.
What We Do
VisionGreenwood focuses on identifying opportunities and supporting community development initiatives that are not currently being met — championing solutions for the gaps and shortfalls. By leveraging the progress that has been made over the past 20 years with fresh ideas for the future, VisionGreenwood is working to ensure that Greenwood will continue to provide the quality of life and community vibrancy needed to attract and retain residents and businesses.
“Quality of life is the cornerstone of VisionGreenwood’s plan of work,” said Self. “We are committed to supporting the development of neighborhoods that provide entertainment, shopping, and dining, along with quality healthcare, world-class education, and employment – all necessary attributes for a thriving community.”
VisionGreenwood recognizes the importance of positioning Greenwood for continued growth. What is now VisionGreenwood funded the Buxton Retail Study in 2019 to support retail development in Greenwood. VisionGreenwood continues to pursue “matches” generated by the Buxton Retail Study and values its partnership with Uptown Greenwood.
Key Areas of Focus
To carry out its mission, VisionGreenwood’s Board has identified core areas of focus, all of which entail developing alliances, renewing plans, focusing on key opportunities, identifying resources, and investing in the community through distinct initiatives fueled by private-public collaboration. These focus areas are Technology and Innovation, Education, Community Development, Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Medical Innovation District and Site Option Agreements to support economic opportunities in Greenwood. Each area of focus has its own distinct initiatives.
Expanding Broadband Connectivity
VisionGreenwood is leading the way in closing the gap on digital infrastructure — a priority that the Greenwood community cannot afford to fall behind in an ever-changing global economy.
With the help of a dedicated Broadband Task Force, VisionGreenwood rolled out an initiative in 2021 to expand broadband connectivity to the rural and underserved areas in Greenwood County. This started with the introduction of a “Closing the Gap” Speed Test accessible from VisionGreenwood’s website. Real-time internet speed data is being collected from Greenwood County residents and VisionGreenwood continues to encourage residents from across the county to take the Speed Test. With enough data in hand, VisionGreenwood will be able to apply for state and federal grants to help fund local internet infrastructure improvements.
Expanded broadband capacity will foster technology innovation through educational outreach into the community. Broadband connectivity will provide rural entrepreneurship to flourish. Tapping into areas that have potential is where VisionGreenwood sees opportunities for entrepreneurism growth. The organization is deeply involved with Technology education.
Cultivating an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
In 2021 VisionGreenwood implemented a new entrepreneurial program called “The Brew” to bring new business ideas that will provide economic development opportunities for Greenwood. Part of a larger Upstate program developed to promote job growth through entrepreneurism, The Brew provides a venue for entrepreneurs, start-up businesses, and craftsmen to get community feedback about their business plans, challenges, and accomplishments. Some entrepreneurs already have something in motion, others are just thinking about starting a venture. VisionGreenwood launched the Greenwood chapter of “The Brew” in collaboration with Uptown Greenwood and the Greenwood Area Small Business Development Center.
The Brew is free and open to the public – and is ideal for networking. The Brew provides entrepreneurs a community platform to interact with the community. This builds interest, creates excitement, and also gives them visibility. Having a formal, established program provides a springboard for creativity.
“One idea may turn into something cool and unique. I want to see Greenwood tap into that creativity. The question is: How do we reach and encourage people who have ideas for a business or an invention to take that next step or leap of faith and turn their idea into a reality? Entrepreneurs create businesses that create jobs, that fill empty buildings and provide a strong tax base for our local government,” said Self.
Before launching The Brew last May, many conversations in the entrepreneurial ecosystem helped VisionGreenwood lay the foundation for the program. Now it’s a part of a regional program that includes Anderson, Greenville, Spartanburg, Greer. Since Greenwood’s launch of The Brew, community leaders in Laurens and Abbeville have started their own “Brews.”
Closing Education Gaps for Career Advancement
VisionGreenwood is leading several key educational initiatives that support career advancement opportunities in our community through partnerships. For example, the organization is partnering with SC Codes to serve as a partner site location, providing FREE coding classes and mentoring for those interested in exploring a career in programming.
Most recently, VisionGreenwood hosted an outreach program to 10th grade high school students to show how robotics, artificial intelligence and quantum computing will impact their futures.
VisionGreenwood is enhancing construction workforce education through a Tiny House project to address the critical shortage of experienced workers in nearly every tier of the construction industry. High school students are learning skilled trades by building a Tiny House with the goal of increasing the number of construction students at the G. Frank Russell Technology Center.
Additionally, VisionGreenwood is providing gap funding for “stop-out students” at Lander University to complete their degrees. These are students in good academic standing who have discontinued their education due to financial reasons.
Greenwood Genetic Center & SCBIO
Helping strategic partnerships continue to flourish is central to VisionGreenwood’s vision. From an entrepreneurial perspective, there is so much potential for growth in this arena.
VisionGreenwood is involved in helping the community capitalize on this competitive edge by continuing its support the Greenwood Genetic Center and by identifying opportunities through its relationship with SCBIO and other centers of influence in the life sciences.
How You Can Help VisionGreenwood Make a Difference
Last year, VisionGreenwood rolled out a refreshed website showcasing the many ways in which the organization is working to better the community. To learn more, visit www.VisionGreenwood.org and be sure to follow @VisionGreenwoodSC on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.