Wanting to provide interested Upstate leaders with an opportunity to see first-hand what is being done by communities across the Upstate to enhance their economic vitality and quality of life, last year Ten at the Top began to hold “Getting to Know Our Neighbors” bus tours of counties across the region.
During our most recent trip to Pickens County, we discovered a county where city, business and education leaders are all working hard to enhance their internal product and opportunities for the future.
Though the Mayors like to tease about their competitive history, the reality is that the cities of Easley and Pickens recognize that they are directly connected and that through collaboration they can make each other stronger, and thus provide better opportunities for their residents as well as residents from across the county. The Doodle Trail, which will celebrate its first anniversary next month, is a great example of how partnerships can have a positive impact for everyone.
While the Doodle Trail is primarily an amenity for local residents, it does provide some tourism opportunities in a county that fully understands that tourism is a huge economic opportunity. As part of the tour we had the opportunity to see Hagood Mill, which is just one of many special places that is being showcased as a local and regional tourism destination. We also toured Red Owens Sports Complex, which is a tremendous asset both as a place for local kids to enjoy sports, but also as a destination location for large national sporting events.
We also had the opportunity to learn about some of the community outreach being done through the Dream Center in Easley and efforts by Baptist Easley Hospital to grow a healthy community.
Clearly, leaders within Pickens County recognize that education is part of the answer to their future economic success. The investment that has been made in the public school system over the last five years is quite striking. We were treated to lunch at the Pickens County Career & Technology Center prepared by students in their culinary program. Since 2012, Pickens County has built not just the Center, but also four new high schools. The result is an opportunity to create innovative learning opportunities for all students in Pickens County.
Connecting education with the manufacturing base is also important in Pickens County and the group Manufacturers Caring for Pickens County has played a key role in reinforcing connections between the business community and education. The Pickens Innovation Center is also filling a valuable role supporting entrepreneur and small business development in the community. Longstanding companies like Blue Ridge Electric also play a valuable role in supporting both the economic and community vibrancy within the county.
The emphasis on education and innovation is not just limited to the k-12 schools in Pickens County. Our tour also included tours of Southern Wesleyan University and Clemson University.
Though significantly different in their scale and scope, both schools are charging into the future with the goal of providing first-class education opportunities for their students. There is quite a lot of construction being done at both schools as they look to how they can build on their long histories while keeping an eye on the future.
Overall, it is clear that local communities, business leaders and educators across Pickens County are committed to providing their residents with job opportunities, education, recreational and quality of life resources that will ensure all residents have the ability to succeed and enjoy life in Pickens County.
Our next Getting to Know Our Neighbors tour will be to Spartanburg County later this summer, so be sure to stay tuned and join us on the bus.
Dean serves as the Executive Director for Ten at the Top
Upstate, SC [April 18, 2016] – On May 12th, city, county, and state elected leaders from within the 10-county Upstate will assemble for a special Upstate Elected Officials meeting, to be held from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm at the Michelin North America Headquarters Auditorium (1 Parkway S, Greenville SC 29615).
The program will include a presentation by David Shellhorse from ACOG on the Entrepreneurial Friendly Communities Tool Kit and a panel discussion facilitated by John Lummus with entrepreneurs/economic development leaders discussing some best practice examples of incubators and other entrepreneurial efforts being done by communities in the Upstate.
Glenn Breed – City of Anderson
Dave Eldridge – Tri-County Business Development Corporation
The Honorable Mike Forrester – Spartanburg Community College
John Moore – NEXT
Since 2010, Ten at the Top, Upstate Forever, Upstate SC Alliance, Appalachian Council of Governments, Upper Savannah Council of Governments, and Catawba Regional Council of Governments have been regularly convening meetings of city, county and state elected leaders, as well as selected business leaders, from across the ten-county Upstate Region to discuss key issues that impact how we are growing and prospering as a region.
Following the meeting please plan on staying for a networking reception with other leaders from across the Upstate.
About Ten at the Top
Comprised of public, private and civic leaders from across the ten-county Upstate South Carolina Region, Ten at the Top was created to build regional trust and encourage regional collaboration through data-driven research and regular convening of leaders and citizens to address key issues facing the region. Ten at the Top works with regional partners to foster collaboration and strategic planning to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life for Upstate residents both today and as the region continues to grow. For more information, visit www.tenatthetop.org.
I could not help thinking this past weekend, in getting out myself, what an incredibly diverse and interesting collection of quality of life assets we have in the Upstate, especially within the small towns and communities that dot the Upstate.
So what makes a place special? Is it the physical nature of a place, its history, cultural and business amenities, or people? Ultimately it is people, who by getting involved and thinking about the future of their small slice of the region, have the power to strategically preserve physical and cultural assets. Yet, more importantly the question is how do communities adapt to remain vibrant and relevant in the present and beyond? Again the answer is you and me. All communities can put money in their quality of life account by creating a safe environment where new, bold, and different ideas are welcomed and grow into a reality.
At the core, Ten at the Top’s mission is making those connections between and within communities stronger and more productive in creating a region that is truly special. Please make time to engage as you explore!
The first time I ever remember hearing about the United Way was as a kid watching NFL Games on television and seeing my NFL heroes tell us that “thanks to you, it works for all of us, the United Way.” (check out one of the old videos)
In communities all over the country, the United Way has played a valuable role for generations in ensuring that all people have opportunities to reach their human potential.
Here in the Upstate region we are fortunate to have seven United Ways that all play an important role in enhancing our communities.
In 2012, the seven United Ways decided to form a regional partnership around an issue that is important to all communities, early childhood learning.
The creation of Born Learning Upstate marked the first time that the United Ways in the Upstate came together collectively to develop an initiative at a regional scale. Each United Way contributed financial support as well as staff time for the effort.
Since the official campaign kickoff in October 2013, the campaign has included a comprehensive web site, public service announcements on local television, consistent messaging of material for doctor’s offices and born learning trails.
The partnership is still going strong and on April 8th the Upstate United Ways announced a new partnership with local Subway shops in the Upstate that is designed to increase awareness of and help measure the usage and impact of the more than 40 Born Learning Trails in the region. The Born Learning trails are interactive opportunities for parents and children to learn, talk and explore while enjoying an outdoor activity.
Working collaboratively to grow the message that every day moments can be learning moments for young children is an important message for parents and young children across our region. By working collectively, the seven United Ways in the Upstate are helping enhance the opportunity for success for all Upstate children.
Dean serves as the Executive Director of Ten at the Top