Ten Counties. One Upstate. Stronger Together

The Upstate Bus Tours

The Upstate Bus Tours... Getting to Know Our Neighbors



In 2014, Ten at the Top and the board of directors decided to implement the Upstate Bus Tours. Giving leaders from across the region more opportunities to learn about their neighboring counties. Participants of the Bus Tours will spend a day traveling to a county within the region to meet with community, business, and education leaders from that county while also touring key locations within that area.

In 2015 the bus will make stops in Greenwood, Union, Laurens and Oconee counties.

Thank you to our 2015 Presenting Sponsor:


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In 2016 the bus will make stops in Pickens, Spartanburg, and Cherokee counties.

Thank you to our 2016 Presenting Sponsor:


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Getting to Know Our Neighbors

Greenwood County: March 12, 2015

On March 12th, a group of 26 took the first Upstate Bus Tour to Greenwood County.

Participants had the opportunity to explore Greenwood's rich history, see for themselves the increase in economic development, and walk the streets of the completely revitalized Uptown.

The day also included briefings from a number of key local business, community and education leaders along with a tour of the internationally recognized Greenwood Genetic Center.

Presenters included:
Heather Simmons Jones - CEO, Partnership Alliance
Frank Wideman - President, The Self Family Foundation
David Tompkins - Chairman, Greenwood Chamber of Commerce
Honorable Steve Brown - Chairman, Greenwood County Council
Anne Craig - Executive Director, Arts Council of Greenwood County
Honorable Welborn Adams - Mayor, City of Greenwood
Julie Wilkie - Assistant City Manager, City of Greenwood
R.L. (Rudy) Powell - Chairman, Partnership Alliance
James Pfeiffer - President& CEO, Self Regional Healthcare
Dr. Steven Skinner - Director, Greenwood Genetic Center

Download some of the presentations from the day by clicking below:

Greenwood County Overview Greenwood Manufacturing
Celebrating 10 Years of the Greenwood, SC City Center Master Plan

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Thank you to our local sponsors:
Self family countybank

Union County: June 18, 2015

On June 18th, a group of 24 took the second Upstate Bus Tour to Union County.

Participants were able to experience two driving tours of the vast economic development in Union, take a tour of the Union County Museum, University of South Carolina, Union Campus, and The Advanced Technology Center. Participants also heard how Union went from having little emphasis on the arts to a booming Arts Council full of exhibitions, events, and activities.

Participants heard from several leaders in Union County while enjoying lunch at Veteran's Park.

The speakers included: Torancce Inman - Director, Union County Chamber of Commerce
Ola Jean Kelley - Executive Director, Union County Museum
Katherine Pendegrass - Business Services Consultant, SC Works of the Upstate
Amber Ivey - Coordinator, Union County Arts Council
Dr. Alice Taylor-Colbeert - Campus Dean, USC Union
Harold Thompson - Mayor, City of Union
Frank Hart - Supervisor, Union County
Ailene Ashe - Mayor, Town of Lockhart
Ernest Moore - Mayor, Town of Jonesville
Andrena Powell-Baker - CEO, Union County Development Board
Kathy Jo Lancaster - Executive Director, Advanced Technology Center

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Thank you to our local sponsors:
Upstate WIB Union Chamber

Laurens County: September 23, 2015

On September 23rd, a group of 21 took the third Bus Tour to Laurens County.

Participants had the opportunity to tour many economic development sites in Laurens by bus. Presbyterian College provided a lengthy tour of the School of Pharmacy. Several presentations were given while on the bus throughout the day including the Senior Director of ZF Transmissions.

After several presentations on economic development, workforce, the Laurens County Future Scholarship, and the Trails Association, guests enjoyed a walking tour of Downtown Laurens and for lunch, Roma Restaurant provided guests with a great meal and atmosphere.

Presenters included:

Frank Stovall - Administrator, City of Clinton
Bob McLean - Mayor, City of Clinton
Dr. Cliff Fuhrman - Dean, PC Pharmacy School
Ernie Segars - Administrator, Laurens County
Councilman Joe Wood - Chairman, Laurens County Council
Jonathan Coleman - Deputy Director, Laurens County Development Corporation
Dr. Cynthia Pitts - Chairman, Laurens County Workforce Development Corporation
Greg Alexander - President, Laurens County Chamber of Commerce
Don Walker - Executive Director, Laurens County Trails Association
Gary Coleman - City Administrator, Laurens County
Jonathan Irick - Director, Main Street Laurens
John Stankus - Mayor, City of Laurens
Rusty Denning - Active Vice President, Piedmont Technical College
Jeff Estes - Director, Center for Advanced Manufacturing
Marvin Moss - Executive Director, Laurens County Development Corporation
John Carter - Mayor, Town of Gray Court
Bob Capell - Sr. Executive Director, ZF Transmissions
Jeff Field - Executive Director, Laurens County Water & Sewer Commission

Download some of the presentations from the day by clicking below.

Laurens County Workforce Development Laurens County Trails Association Laurens County Future Scholarship

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Thank you to our local sponsors:
Laurens County Chamber of Commerce Laurens Electric

Oconee County: November 5, 2015

The last Upstate Bus Tour of 2015 took place on November 5th in Oconee County.

Participants heard from several county, government, and education leaders throughout the day.

Presentations were made throughout the day from Paul Cain, Oconee County Councilman,Richard Blackwell, President & CEO of the Oconne Alliance, City Administrators and other elected officials from Oconee, Walhalla, and Seneca. Presentations covered many successful efforts to enhance economic development, job growth and workforce development.

Duke World of Energy provided a special presentation and tour to participants. BJ Gatton, corporate communications with Duke Energy, discussed the economic and environmental impact of the facilities in the Upstate.

And even on a drizzly day, participants enjoyed a nice walk around Stumphouse Tunnel and Issaqueena Falls.

Chattooga Belle Farm, a fully operational farm to many fruits, vegetables, & grapes for wine is also a popular event and wedding venue in the Upstate. The farm is open year round and now hosts more than 70 weddings a year! They have recently opened their very own distillery. Participants enjoyed a wonderful lunch in front of a (normally sunny) beautiful backdrop overlooking the vineyards. Owners, Ed and Kitty Land gave us a brief history of the farm and how it has grown and made a huge impact to not only Oconee county but to the Upstate!

Presenters included:

Paul Cain - Vice Chair, Oconne County Council/TATT Board Member
BJ Gatton - Corporate Communications, Duke World of Energy
Ginger Hopkins - Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services, Oconee County Schools
Ken Sloan - Executive Director, SC Mountain Lakes CVB
Mr. & Mrs. Land - Owners, Chattooga Belle Farm
Gwen McPhail - Local Farmer
Jeff Lord - City Administrator, City of Westminster
Richard Blackwell - President & CEO, Oconee Economic Alliance
Danny Edwards - Mayor, City of Walhalla
Dan Alexander - Mayor, City of Seneca
Suzette Cross - Blue Ridge Arts Council
Greg Dietterick - City Administrator, City of Seneca

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Thank you to our local sponsor:
Oconee-Economic-Alliance---Medium

Pickens County: April 20, 2016

On April 20th, Ten at the Top hosted a full bus tour to Pickens County.

A busy day in Pickens included a driving tour of the JB "Red" Owens Sports Complex, walking tours of downtown Easley and Pickens highlighting the Old Market Square, the Outdoor Amphitheater, the Doodle Trail, and a tour of Hagood Mill. There were several discussions and tours of the booming economy throughout the county with presentations from elected officials, business and community leaders.

Participants had lunch prepared by students at the Pickens County Career & Technology Center. And a day spent in Pickens County would not be complete without highlighting Southern Wesleyan University and Clemson University.

Presenters Included:

Stephen Steese - City Administrator, City of Easley
Larry Bagwell - Mayor, City of Easley
Chris Wilson - Executive Director, The Dream Center
Michael Batchelor - CEO, Baptist Easley Hospital
David Owens - Mayor, City of PIckens
Helen Hockwalt - Tourism Director, Pickens County
Rob Colcolough - Plant Manager, Tri Tech USA
Ken Hitchcock - Director, Pickens County Career & Technology Center
Dr. Danny Merck - Superintendent, School District of Pickens County
Tom O'Hanlan - Chairman, Manufacturers Caring for Pickens County
Charles Dalton - CEO, Blue Ridge Electric Corp.
Dr. Lisa McWhereter - Vice President for Advancement, Southern Wesleyan University
Brett Dalton - Vice President for Finance and Operations, Clemson University
Dr. Charles Watt - Founding Director, Avisory Board Chairman, Watt Family Innovation Center
Gerald Vander May - Director, University Planning and Design, Clemson University

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Spartanburg County: June 22, 2016

On June 22nd, Ten at the Top hosted a sold out bus tour to Spartanburg County.

A full day in Spartanburg will included stops at the North Spartanburg Sports Complex, the Northside Community and Downtown Spartanburg including - the USC Upstate School of Business (The George), the Chapman Cultural Center and the growing business district.

Will Rothschild (City of Spartanburg) and Claudia Albergotti (Johnson Development) provided the group with a glimpse into the new development projects currently underway and those coming in the future that will further the growth and redevelopment of many well known historic buildings in Downtown.

Presenters included:

Chris Jennings - Executive Vice President, Spartanburg Convention and Business Bureau
Carter Smith - Executive Vice President, Spartanburg Economic Futures Group
Michael Forrester - Director of Economic Development, Spartanburg Community College
Ralph Wabnitz - General Manager, Kobelco Plant
Tammie Hoy Hawkins - President, Together Consulting
Tom Moore - Chancellor, USC Upstate
Henry Giles, Jr. - President, Spartanburg Community College
David Beacham - Senior Vice President for Administration, Wofford College
Thomas White - Associate Superintendent, Spartanburg School District 7
Tom Kowalski - Dean, VCOM-Carolinas
Allen Smith - President, Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce
Todd Horne - Vice President, Clayton Construction Company
Will Rothschild - Communications Manager, City of Spartanburg
Claudia Albergotti - Johnson Development

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Cherokee County: November 3, 2016

The Getting to Know Our Neighbors Upstate Bus Tour made a stop in Cherokee County on November 3rd with participants seeing first-hand some of the great things going on within that Upstate county.

The tour included a stop at the new Dollar Tree Distribution Center, which is 1.5 million square foot facility opened earlier this year. A business with a much longer, 45 year, history in Cherokee County is Timken and the day also included a visit from the Cherokee Plant Manager John Milko.

Cherokee County is home to three National Parks and attendees visited the Cowpens National Battlefield while getting a demonstration on loading and shooting a revolutionary war era musket.

Like the other counties in the Upstate, providing training that creates a skilled workforce is an important issue in Cherokee County and the tour included a stop at the Spartanburg Community College Cherokee Campus and greetings from SCC President Henry Giles. Also as part of the day, attendees visited the beautiful Limestone College campus and visited with Limestone President Dr. Walt Griffin.

The Know2 initiative has been an important catalyst to community change in Cherokee County and one outcome of the initiative has been the creation of the bGEN business incubator in Downtown Gaffney.


Another Downtown Gaffney revitalization effort was the purchase and renovation of the old post office to serve as the Gaffney Visitors Center and Art Gallery. Mayor Henry Jolly shared the history of the facility before participants enjoyed the current exhibit by renowned South Carolina artist Robert Wilson.

Special thanks to the Cherokee County Development Board, Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce and City of Gaffney for helping organize the day.

The Upstate Bus Tours will continue in 2017 with trips to Anderson County, Abbeville County and Greenville County.