Creating an Environment That Works for Entrepreneurs

    Creating an Environment That Works for Entrepreneurs

    By Erin Ouzts, TATT Economic & Entrepreneurial Vitality Task Force Chair

    While much of the publicity related to jobs and economic development is often centered on larger employers, the reality is that small businesses and entrepreneurs are critical to the economic success of any community or region.

    In the Upstate, many people are working to cultivate an entrepreneurial ecosystem that supports individuals and small businesses. Engaging the support providers for this key economic engine has been a focus of Ten at the Top and the Economic & Entrepreneurial Vitality Task Force since the early days of the organization.

    Over the last year, our Entrepreneur Support Providers Network has been hearing from local and national leaders on how to continue growing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Upstate.

    People, trust, values, culture. How do these attributes make our Upstate region entrepreneurs, founders and business owners more successful?

    When Andy Stoll, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Senior Program Officer in Entrepreneurship and overall entrepreneurial ecosystem development leader in the U.S., talked with our Entrepreneur Support Providers by Skype last November, this is what he said we needed. As you can imagine, our practical Upstate advisors, coaches, lenders, investors, SBDC & SCORE representatives, incubators, accelerators and every organization that supports entrepreneurs were a little uncomfortable with this. We were also a little uncomfortable with the region’s lack of awareness of the amazing work we do to build a thriving base of support for our entrepreneurs.

    As engagement with the Economic and Entrepreneurial Vitality driver area has grown, we knew we depend on our personal networks to match our entrepreneur clients to the appropriate network. Then we gathered professionals from around the 10 counties and realized there were many resources we didn’t know about that could be exceptionally helpful. The challenge became: How do we actively connect these new links to our network and provide appropriate resources for entrepreneurs?

    Stoll explained that entrepreneur ecosystems allow entrepreneurs to more quickly access the knowledge and funding they need, shortening their time to success and potential need for additional funds. To provide unobstructed pathways, we professionals need to know others in the network, understand the strengths and special skills each brings, take the time to connect entrepreneurs to the right person, and trust our peers. When I asked how to do this, he said one of the best ways is to do something together.

    What could we all do together, yet separately, to support our local entrepreneurs and increase awareness Our Entrepreneur Support Providers Network (soon to be Entrepreneur Ecosystem)? How about a regional Global Entrepreneurship Week celebration? That might work! In 2018, our ESP meetings have been geared toward individual events held within each community yet promoted collectively on shared platforms to shine a light on the extent of the many organizations involved in supporting entrepreneurs, founders and growing companies.

    Ten at the Top has a Regional Resource Map with Ecosystem members’ location and information easily accessible. In the Know Upstate is the regional calendar for the events. The Global Entrepreneurship Week and Ten at the Top brands on our materials will identify us as connected.


    The following resources give more information about entrepreneurial ecosystems:

    Entrepreneur Ecosystem Playbook (draft)
    Entrepreneurs Matter
    What are Entrepreneurial Ecosystems
    ESHIP Summit
    Global Entrepreneurship Week

    Please join us…

    REGISTER HERE for the upcoming Q3 Entrepreneur Support Providers Network Workshop on September 21st!



    2018 Upstate Regional Summit to Feature 40+ Speakers

    2018 Upstate Regional Summit to Feature 40+ Speakers

    “Winning the Future” theme will infuse Opening Session, Workshops, and Keynote Address

    GREENVILLE, S.C.— Winning the Future, the 2018 Upstate Summit hosted by Ten at the Top and presented by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, has confirmed more than three dozen regional leaders to speak, representing a vibrant cross-section of the Upstate’s corporate and civic community. The 2018 Regional Summit is scheduled for Tuesday, September 25 at the TD Convention Center, from 7:30 am to 1:30 pm. Tickets are available via Eventbrite via for $65 per person (corporate) and $45 per person (non-profit). Registration ends September 14, 2018.

    “The 2018 Upstate Summit will provide a unique opportunity for business, community and civic leaders, as well as interested stakeholders from across the region, to share ideas and discuss how to work collaboratively to ensure our region continues to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life for all residents,” said Dean Hybl, Executive Director of Ten at the Top. “We expect between 800 and 900 to attend, and are looking forward to a great event.”

    Doors open at 7:30 am with the Summit’s B2B Expo sponsored by ScanSource, providing networking and continental breakfast until the Opening Session begins at 9:00 am.

    Opening Session Panel

    The Opening Session of the 2018 Upstate Regional Summit, presented by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, is entitled “Is South Carolina and the Upstate Well Positioned to ‘Win the Future’ in Economic Development and Job Creation?” Speakers are set to include:

      • Frank Davis, Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd
      • Beth Land, Site Selection Group
      • Nelson Lindsay, South Carolina Department of Commerce
      • Trey Pennington, CBRE
      • Moderators: Amy Wood, WSPA-TV; and John Lummus, Upstate SC Alliance
    Breakout Sessions

    The Summit will continue with breakout sessions involving presentations by and discussions with Upstate leaders through the lens of Ten at the Top’s five Regional Driver areas: Winning the Future Around Education and Workforce Development; Winning the Future Around Mobility and Connectivity; Winning the Future Around Innovation and Technology; and Winning the Future Around Creating Vibrant Communities. Each Summit participant chooses two of the four breakout sessions. Each breakout sessions lasts 45 minutes with a short break in between.

    Winning the Future Around Innovation and Technology

    Speakers are set to include:

        • Susan Brami, Spectrum
        • Glen McManus, ReWa
        • Lelia King, Build Carolina & Carolina Code School
        • Moderator: Rob Krulac, CU-ICAR

    Winning the Future Around Creating Vibrant Communities

    Speakers are set to include:

          • Phil Hughes, Hughes Investments
          • Jil Littlejohn, Greenville City Council & the Urban League of the Upstate
          • Blake Sanders, City of Easley and Town of West Pelzer
          • Nancy Whitworth, City of Greenville
          • Moderator: Jennifer Evins, Chapman Cultural Center

    Winning the Future Around Mobility and Connectivity

    Speakers are set to include:

            • David Bruemmer, Adaptive Motion Group
            • Leesa Owens, Michelin North America
            • Nick Rigas, CU-ICAR
            • Moderator: Doug Webster, Carolinas Alliance 4 Innovation

    Winning the Future Around Education and Workforce Development

    Speakers are set to include:

              • Joanne Avery, Anderson School District Four
              • Ronnie Booth, Tri-County Technical College
              • Brendan Kelly, USC Upstate
              • Carlos Phillips, Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce
              • Moderator: Ansel Sanders, Public Education Partners
    Connections Corner

    New to the Summit experience this year, participants may visit Connections Corner during the Breakout period. Connections Corner, sponsored by GSA Business Report and Limestone College, allows Summit participants to engage in conversation with community leaders around specific topics of interest, as a way of cultivating more and deeper connections and collaborations among those who share areas of passion, interest, or industry.

    During Session One, the topics and confirmed conversationalists in Connections Corner are as follows:

    Future of K-12 Education
    Dr. Burke Royster, Greenville County School District
    Dr. Richard Rosenberger, Anderson County School District 2

    Role of Technical Colleges in Reducing the “Skills Gap” for Manufacturing
    Henry Giles, Spartanburg Community College
    Dr. Jermaine Whirl, Greenville Technical College

    Importance of Higher Education and Advanced Degrees for Future Workforce
    Dr. George Petersen, Clemson University College of Education
    Dr. Paul LeFrancois, Limestone College

    Promoting Multi-Modal Transportation and Mobility in the Upstate
    Keith Brockington, Greenville Pickens Area Transportation Study
    Ty Houck, Greenville County Trails Director

    How can we promote Sustainable Growth in the Upstate?
    Sue Schneider, Spartanburg Water
    Lisa Hallo, Upstate Forever

    During Session Two, the topics and confirmed conversationalists in Connections Corner are as follows:

    Providing for the Needs of Our Growing Senior Population
    Catriona Carlisle, Meals on Wheels of Greenville
    James Bennett, Upstate Home Health

    Creating an Ecosystem to Support Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses in Your Community
    Erin Ouzts, Spartanburg Angel Network
    Dave Eldridge, Tri-County Entrepreneurial Development Corp

    What is on the Horizon for Economic Development in the Upstate?
    Heather Jones, Greenwood Partnership Alliance
    Patty Bock, City of Spartanburg

    Development Trends and Challenges in the Upstate
    David Feild, Colliers International
    Todd Horne, Clayton Construction

    How do we recruit future talent to the Upstate?
    John Lummus, Upstate SC Alliance
    Allen Smith, Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce

    Keynote Address

    The Summit will culminate with the Summit Keynote Address sponsored by Greenville Business Magazine. Ten at The Top is excited to welcome Polly LaBarre as the 2018 Upstate Summit Keynote Speaker. Polly LaBarre is the Co-author of Mavericks at Work, Co-founder of Management Lab and Founding Writer at Fast Company. For more than 20 years, LaBarre has used her writing, business consulting, and speaking to help organizations unleash and organize human potential in ever more powerful ways.

    More than 70 organizations across the Upstate support the 2018 Upstate Summit as sponsors and make the event possible, including BlueCrossBlueShield of South Carolina, Spartanburg Water, Fluor, WSPA-TV, Greenville Business Magazine, Skyline Exhibits & Design, Palmetto Technology Group, USC Upstate, Piedmont Natural Gas, ScanSource, GSA Business Report, Limestone College, Upstate Business Journal, Hughes Investments and In the Know 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 connect 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