Upstate, SC [May 15, 2017] – Ten at the Top (TATT) is hosting the Shaping Our Future Forum on May 25, 2017, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at BMW Zentrum with a networking reception to follow. The event is part of TATT’s annual Our Upstate Vision Forum Series presented by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina. The series was created to provide an opportunity to discuss issues that are impacting current and future growth in the Upstate region.
The May 25th forum will look at the results of the Shaping Our Future Analysis, a year-long scenario analysis process being conducted in partnership with The Riley Institute at Furman University, Upstate Forever, and other regional partners. This process was guided by a steering committee representing the business sector, local governments and utilities, and community organizations; a technical advisory committee; several focus groups; and community feedback.
The 10-county Upstate region is growing. By 2040, our region’s population is projected to reach nearly 1,750,000 – an increase of 64% since 1990. How and where we grow will have real impacts on our quality of life – affecting commute times and transportation choices, air and water quality and our pocket books. The Shaping Our Future Analysis is an opportunity to explore and debate alternative regional visions for growth keeping in mind their associated fiscal, environmental and quality of life trade-offs. Scenario planning tools have been used to evaluate the impacts of competing development scenarios including current growth trends.
In addition to the unveiling of the results, the forum will include a presentation from the principals of City Explained (Matt Noonkester) and Urban3 (Joe Minicozzi), the two consulting firms that conducted the Shaping Our Future Analysis, and a panel discussion of Upstate leaders who are among those involved in the decision-making of land-use within our region. After the conclusion of the forum, there will be a networking reception to follow in the lobby area of the newly renovated BMW Zentrum. Cost to attend is $10 per person and advance registration is required.
The Shaping Our Future Analysis was made possible thanks to the generosity of Hollingsworth Funds, Greater Greenville Association of Realtors, Ten at the Top, The Riley Institute at Furman University, Upstate Forever, and Belgium Brewery. Supporting Sponsors for the Shaping Our Future Forum include TD Bank, Trehel Corporation and Colliers International. Supporting Sponsors of the Our Upstate Vision Forum Series include GSP International Airport, Fluor, WGTK-FM 94.5 The Answer, and GSA Business Report.
To register or to find out more information, please visit. www.tenatthetop.org.
About Ten at the Top
Comprised of public, private and civic leaders across the ten-county Upstate South Carolina Region, Ten at the Top was created to build regional trust and consensus 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 encourage quality growth and enhance the economic vitality, natural and cultural resources and quality of life for Upstate residents both today and as the region continues to grow. www.tenatthetop.org.
The American Lung Association has released their 2017 State of the Air rankings and the Upstate South Carolina region is continuing to see the ratings for counties within the region improve. Of the Upstate counties specifically referenced in the report, Abbeville, Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties received “A” ratings for Ozone; while Greenville, Spartanburg and Cherokee received “B”. This marks the first time that all seven counties have received an A or B rating.
In 2016, Spartanburg and Anderson were rated as a “C” and Cherokee a “D”. Dating back to 2012, Spartanburg had received an “F” grade and the rest of the Upstate was rated as a “C”, so the improvement within the region over the last few years has been remarkable and good for the health of all Upstate residents.
These ratings are consistent with the ozone monitor numbers that are recorded by the South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control (DHEC) as part of the EPA Clean Air Act monitoring. The emission numbers in the Upstate have seen steady improvement over the last 15 years and now, for the first time ever, the Upstate region is well within the current EPA attainment standards.
Since 2012, Ten at the Top has coordinated the Upstate Air Quality Advisory Committee, which includes public, private and civic stakeholders all focused on ensuring the Upstate’s air quality continues to meet federal standards. Through voluntary efforts of many businesses, local governments and residents, the air quality in the Upstate is continuing to improve.
The American Lung Association measures the state of the air by analyzing particle pollution in two different ways: the average annual levels of particle pollution and spikes of short term particle pollution. The levels of ozone and particle pollution are measured at official monitoring sites maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency. To view the American Lung Association State of the Air 2017 report in its entirety please visit www.tenatthetop.org and click on Natural Beauty & Resources.
The week of May 1st through May 5th is recognized as Air Quality Awareness Week. This special week provides an opportunity to educate the public on the importance of clean air and simple ways we can improve our air quality. Check out www.CleanAirUpstate.org or the Ten at the Top Facebook page for tips on how to play a role in keeping our air clean and safe for everyone in the Upstate.
The American Lung Association (ALA) has released their “State of the Air” report for 2017 and while there is always room for continued improvement, the “grades” for the Upstate region are definitely looking good.
It was just five years ago that the ALA ratings gave Spartanburg an “F” grade for Ozone emission levels and the rest of the region a “C” grade. Fast-forward to the 2017 report and it is a very different story. Abbeville, Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties all received a grade of “A” by ALA and Greenville, Spartanburg and Cherokee received a “B” rating (ALA did not give individual county ratings for Laurens, Greenwood or Union).
These ratings are very consistent with the ozone monitor numbers that are recorded by the South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Controls (DHEC) as part of the EPA Clean Air Act monitoring. The emission numbers in the Upstate have seen steady improvement over the last 15 years and now, for the first time ever, the Upstate region is well within the current EPA attainment standards.
So, what has changed over the last five years or for that matter the last 15 years?
There are many factors that can be identified as contributing to the consistent improvements in air quality in the Upstate. Some, such as summer weather and air flow are out of our control. However, many other things that are to some extent within the control of our local communities and businesses have helped make the air cleaner and safer for Upstate residents.
Dating back to the early 2000s when the region first had the potential of being out of attainment with the EPA standards, it was a partnership of local governments and businesses that created an “Early Action Compact” that helped keep the region within compliance. The elimination of coal fired electric plants in the region and emission reduction efforts by other industries also played an important role.
In recent years, communities and businesses within the Upstate have continued to implement voluntary actions, many related to vehicles and mobile emission sources, that have helped reduce emissions and make the air cleaner for Upstate residents. Campaigns like the “Clean Air Upstate” campaign that started in 2012 also have helped grow awareness across the region of what can be done by individuals, businesses & institutions and local governments to make our air cleaner and safer. Individual actions with a compounding cumulative impact.
One important word to recognize in that phrase is “voluntary.” As folks at the national level debate the regulatory role of government in issues related to natural resources, the Upstate has shown that voluntary efforts and a community commitment to improving health of local residents can help make a difference at a time when the Upstate is also seeing consistently high levels of manufacturing investment and job growth.
It can certainly be debated whether the Upstate would have started down this path towards clean air 15 years ago had there not been a threat of regulations that would have increased costs for manufacturers and local governments in the region. What isn’t debatable is that as the momentum has grown and improvements have been seen, many local businesses and communities have continued to find new ways to make the air safer for all Upstate residents.
Now, just because the Upstate has seen amazing improvement in air quality doesn’t mean the job is over. ALA estimates that there are nearly 25,000 cases of Pediatric Asthma and 80,000 cases of Adult Asthma within our region. These numbers are slightly below those from past years, but still are significant.
Continuing to encourage voluntary opportunities to reduce emissions as individuals, local businesses, governments and a region is vital to this important issue that impacts both the public health of our residents and the economic vitality of our region.
For ideas on how you, your business or local government can continue to reduce air pollution and make air quality in the Upstate even better, please check out www.CleanAirUpstate.org.