Building the Future at USC Union

    Building the Future at USC Union

    Annie Smith • USC Union • Development & Marketing Director

    Starting in the fall semester of 2019, USC Union will be able to deliver the USC Aiken Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. This new expansion will allow students to study all four years in Union and Laurens, including coursework and clinicals. A new science and nursing center will capitalize on the growing USC Union campus. The goal is to attract more nurses to our area in order to impact local healthcare workforce needs.

    USC Union strives to make meaningful, top-quality education both accessible and affordable. Continued success and growth of USC Union depends on our ability to evolve with changes. In today’s world, technology is a critical component of any educational program, and incorporating cutting-edge technology will ensure that our students have the resources necessary to succeed.

    In order to successfully achieve this goal, the campus will need upgraded biology and chemistry laboratories, additional online classroom capacity, and additional nursing faculty. Union County has provided a building on Main Street in Union to accommodate this expansion, but extensive renovations are necessary.

    Students will use virtual reality to build familiarity with scenarios in a controlled environment by “doing rather than seeing.” Virtual labs are used presently at Harvard and Stanford. Students will learn using unique state-of-the-art virtual reality. They will be able to explore with lifelike 3D models that cover the entire human body. This teaching style drives student engagement and will accelerate learning. It will also give instant feedback to the student during the simulation.

    Renovations in the new science and nursing building are needed to accommodate the invaluable educational tool that will assist students on their path of receiving their nursing degree. Virtual labs are safer and preferable because there are no chemicals or vent hoods. The labs also increase access and reduce costs. Research space will support student and faculty projects to drive learning by allowing hands-on experience. The additional space in the nursing building will enable USC Union to recruit top faculty and students.

    USC Union’s Development and Marketing Director, Annie Smith, said, “The growth at USC Union is significant for our county and especially our downtown. It is remarkable to see how our campus has developed in just a few years and my wish is that every single person in Union will stand behind USC Union to help us grow even more.”

    For over 50 years, USC Union has housed a small library downstairs in the USC Union Central Building. It offered students the tools and resources they needed for research and any computer services. The library hosted workshops and maintained a comprehensive collection of resources that support the academic offerings of USC Union’s curricula.

    One block from USC Union is the Union Carnegie Library. It is housed in the oldest library building in South Carolina, which was given by Andrew Carnegie. The library recently went through an extensive renovation and restoration of the original historic section. This added more space for children and teens, as well as additional space for meeting and workshops. During the renovation, USC Union’s campus was a satellite location, and a strong partnership was formed between the two.

    “The agreement between USC Union and the Carnegie Library is a positive for the university, the library, and the community. It enables the university to expand services and hours in a beautiful location. It frees up space on campus for much-needed classrooms and faculty offices. It provides the Carnegie with working capital. It allows the community to see that two government agencies can combine efforts in order to provide better service for all while cutting overall expenses,” expressed Dr. John Catalano, USC Union’s dean.

    With two libraries being situated within a block of each other, it made sense to move the USC Union library system to Carnegie. The partnership benefits faculty, staff, students, and the community as a whole. Carnegie offers more resources, technology, computer usage, and much more. Their extended evening and Saturday hours will greatly benefit the students, especially during exam times.

    Rieta Drinkwine, Director of Union Carnegie Library, stated, “We are incredibly excited about this collaboration and the new ways we will be able to serve the community together,and we hope that this collaboration will serve as template for other similar partnerships across the state. USC Union is doing wonderful things for Union, and we are glad to be a part of their efforts.”

    Once emptied, the USC Union library will free up over 6,000 square feet. Future plans for the area consist of a foreign language active learning lab, four large classrooms, three office spaces, and additional storage. The area will be designated for humanities faculty, including foreign language, literature, and philosophy. The move and renovations will support USC Union’s growth without having to build a new building.

    Future Fine Arts Building

    USC Union has also acquired an older post office building across from campus on Main Street. Once the Science and Nursing building renovations are complete, the post office building will become the USC Union Fine Arts building. It will house a printing press room, gallery area, a kiln room, office space for two artists, studio space, and a large lecture room. Thanks to Lockhart Power, the parking lot at the Fine Arts building also has two car-charging stations. City of Union and the Union County were the first local governments to participate in the state’s Plug In South Carolina campaign, and USC Union is proud to be a location. The initiative is a push to bring attention to the charging stations installed throughout the state.

    If you are interested in learning more about USC Union or to donate to the campus, please contact Annie Smith, Development & Marketing Director at or (864) 424-8055.

    Entrepreneurs & Small Businesses Play Critical Role in Economic Success

    Entrepreneurs & Small Businesses Play Critical Role in Economic Success

    By Dean Hybl, Executive Director, Ten at the Top

    When we think about the economy in the Upstate or across the country, we often focus most of our attention on the larger companies such as BMW, Michelin, Bosch, Milliken and others with lots of employees and established brands and histories.

    Yet, did you know that 89% of the businesses in the United States employ 20 or fewer employees?

    Andy Stoll, Kauffman Foundation

    According to Andy Stoll from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, the places that will thrive economically in today’s“Connected Age” are those that can best enable entrepreneurs and small businesses to grow and achieve success.

    While that certainly includes creating and identifying small businesses resources needed by entrepreneurs, Stoll said that also means purposefully creating a culture where all potential entrepreneurs and small business owners are aware of and have access to what they need to be successful.

    “Many communities have the ingredients that entrepreneurs need,” Stoll said, “they just may not be organized in a way that is supportive.”

    Stoll, a senior program officer for the Kauffman Foundation who has started six entrepreneurial-focused organizations, made those comments during a recent two-day visit to the Upstate. During his trip, Stoll met with local entrepreneurs and toured some of the great incubators and entrepreneurial support locations in the region including NEXT in Greenville, BGEN in Gaffney and the Tri-Country Entrepreneurial Development Center in Walhalla.

    He also spoke at a luncheon in Spartanburg hosted by the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, Johnson Group, VentureSouth andVentureCarolina and conducted a workshop for about 30 entrepreneurs and entrepreneur support providers as part of Ten at the Top’s Entrepreneur Support Providers Network.

    “The Upstate is ahead of many other places in looking at ecosystem building,” Stoll said. “That you already have people coming together to see how they can work collaboratively and enhance opportunities forentrepreneurs is vital.”

    After graduating from the University of Iowa and before embarking on his current career, Stoll spent four years visiting 40 countries across the globe. During that time he enjoyed many unique experiences and also observed great similarities as well as differences in various parts of the world.

    He was about two years into his travels when he saw a very stark economic shift as a result of the 2008 global financial crisis. Stoll believes that crisis marked the formal end of the industrial age and hastened the world into what he and others call the connected age.

    Stoll provided four observations from his travels that have helped shape his current work promoting entrepreneurism across the country:

    • Entrepreneurship and innovation has been democratized – Greater connectivity and access mean that it has generally never been easier to be an entrepreneur.
    • The individual has been globalized – Because of the technology available today, individuals are more connected than ever before and can find anything they want or need easier, regardless of where it might be located.
    • Networks are replacing hierarchies – In many cases, industries that are struggling were built around specific management, organizational or product delivery structures that are not always successful or needed in todays connected world.  It is now often easier to build networks of involvement and support as well as to receive products and information without utilizing some of the traditional hierarchies that previously often played an essential or gatekeeper role.
    • Geography doesn’t have a monopoly on good ideas – Because we are so connected andinformation and materials are typically much easier to access from anywhere,not all individuals or companies engaged around a specific idea or type ofproduct have to be located in one place. While Silicon Valley is still greatlyassociated with technology innovation, Stoll said that you don’t have to be inSilicon Valley to have a successful tech start-up company.

    If you study Stoll’s observations, what you would think he is saying is that entrepreneurship across the country is flourishing because many of the historic barriers for individuals have been eliminated.

    However, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of companies defined as startups being created in the United States each year has declined by more than half over the last 30 years.

    In particular, Stoll mentioned that ethnic minorities and women are still under-represented as entrepreneurs and small business owners, though they are making up a growing percentage of the population and workforce.

    That is why Stoll says it is critical for communities that are looking to create a thriving culture of entrepreneurs and locally created small businesses develop and deploy strategies that not only provide resources and support for entrepreneurs, but ensure that all potential entrepreneurs have access to the resources and are positioned for success.

    An innovation culture has long been a trademark within the Upstate and there have been many individuals and organizations that have helped create and support entrepreneurs.

    Our key as a region moving forward is to keep growing those resources while also fostering a collaborative culture that is inclusive and geared towards ensuring the opportunity for all potential entrepreneurs and small business owners to enjoy success, regardless of background or where they live in the Upstate.

    If you are interested in learning more or becoming engaged with the Upstate Entrepreneur SupportProviders Network coordinated through Ten at the Top, please check out the link on the Ten at the Top website (