The beginning of a new decade always provides an opportunity to look ahead and forecast what issues and opportunities are on the horizon.
As we exit a decade that began with 11+ percent unemployment in South Carolina and enter one with an unemployment rate under 3 percent, there is no
College students training at BMW Manufacturing
question that our priorities and areas of focus for 2020 and beyond will be quite different than they were ten years ago.
Over the last couple of years, we have started to see a shift from a primary focus on attracting jobs for available workers to developing, attracting and retaining talent to fill available jobs. We also now must place greater emphasis on reducing the barriers to employment for people living in the Upstate who are unemployed or under-employed.
There are many barriers impacting the ability for some residents to succeed, but below are three of the primary ones:
Cost of Housing outpacing wage increases
While all three of these issues are critical and justifiably have many Upstate entities working to mitigate them, at Ten at the Top we have spent the last two years working most specifically around bringing together stakeholders from across the region to address issues around transportation and mobility.
It is estimated that 6% of all households in the Upstate (roughly 37,000 households) have no access to a vehicle. In Greenville County alone, 24% of all residents (roughly 125,000 people) reported that they have some challenges with securing dependable transportation to get to jobs, school or other locations.
With the unemployment rate now near a record low, this barrier to employment doesn’t just impact the individuals that do not have access to transportation, it impacts the entire Upstate economy.
Over the last decade the Upstate secured more than $17 billion in new corporate investment. The jobs created through that investment are a significant reason for our current low unemployment.
If we are to continue to grow the economy in the Upstate, removing lack of transportation as a barrier for potential employees is critical. In addition, mitigating congestion, regular road maintenance and enhancing the general movement of people and goods across the Upstate are other elements that must be addressed to holistically improve mobility in the region.
While studying the challenges here in the Upstate and looking at the approaches in other communities across the country, one thing has been certain: there is no silver bullet to fix transportation and mobility issues.
Instead, there is a need for a multiple front approach with different elements of mobility each playing a vital role in reaching success.
An essential action was taken in 2017 with the increase of the state gas tax to help ensure there is sufficient funding to repair and maintain roads within the state. However, that was simply the first step towards improving mobility.
Improving public transportation, providing regional transportation connectivity, utilizing technology to mitigate congestion and increasing opportunities for alternative transportation such as biking and walking are among the other elements needed to improve mobility and increase access to transportation.
Upstate Mobility Alliance Director Michael Hildebrand
One recommendation that came out of our study of mobility was the need for a convening group to connect the many different mobility efforts happening across the region. That has led to the creation of the Upstate Mobility Alliance, which officially began efforts in January following the hiring of Michael Hildebrand as the Alliance Director.
The role of the Mobility Alliance is to help continue to grow collaboration amongst the more than two dozen entities that play a role in the movement of people and goods across the Upstate so that we are maximizing the limited resources within our region and leveraging the capabilities of all who are part of our mobility spectrum.
As a sign of what is possible when we work together and our corporate partners invest in our region, the Michelin Corporate Foundation has committed $825,000 to enhance mobility in the Upstate through a grant awarded to the Upstate Mobility Alliance and Greenlink to help support increased access to public transportation.
It is our hope and expectation that this will be just the first of many announcements in the near future of how we can leverage public-private partnerships to reduce access to transportation as a barrier to economic success for all individuals and businesses in the Upstate.
The month of March is Upstate International Month, with events across the Upstate celebrating various aspects of cultures across the world—from food to film to festivals. The events range from large ticketed events at the Peace Center and other venues to smaller, more intimate gatherings, so there’s something for everyone to explore.
All told, there will be around 100 events hosted by 50-60 businesses and organizations throughout the month of March. The host organizations partner with Upstate International, using the UI branding and theme (“Fun on a Global Scale!”) for their events, which UI then promotes.
The events are meant to highlight the beautiful diversity that exists among various cultures around the world, but Upstate International as an organization exists, in part, to shine a spotlight on the ethnic diversity that exists right here in the Upstate.
“As we enter into the 8th consecutive year of our month-long celebration each March, we are delighted by the continuing participation of our regular event hosts while excited by new partnerships and new events,” says UI executive director Tracie Frese. “The longevity of our UI Month is proof of its value.”
This year’s kickoff fundraising event is a sold-out international murder mystery night, “Murder on a Train” on February 28th—but even if you didn’t manage to snag a ticket to that event, there will be plenty of opportunities to celebrate UI Month.
Ten at the Top’s (TATT) signature young professional event, Pique, will be held on March 23rd at the Huguenot Mill and Loft in downtown Greenville, with ScanSource as the presenting sponsor. The keynote speaker will be Greenville author Sallie Holder, whose book, Hitting Rock Middle: The Roadmap from Empty Success to True Fulfillment, was released in January of this year.
A graduate of Vanderbilt University and the University of South Carolina Law School, Holder previously served as an attorney at Ogletree Deakins Law Firm and lives in Greenville. In addition to her recently released book, Sallie is a dynamic speaker who leaves audiences with the tools they need to make the changes they desire. She’s an expert on leadership, teams, change management, mindset, and motivation.
The material in the book comes from Holder’s own personal experience. After experiencing early success as a young attorney and other corporate positions—named a “Top Professional of the Year,” she had a six-figure income and enjoyed what society sees as a successful lifestyle—she coined the term “Hitting Rock Middle” to describe her feelings of dissatisfaction and emptiness.
Now an entrepreneur, business coach, and author, she has created a step-by-step plan to help others create a path to their greatest potential with true fulfillment and success. She shares that plan in her book, and she will speak to the young professionals at Pique about those themes. Holder’s books will be on sale at the event, and she will be available to sign the books.
“I am thrilled to have Sallie Holder on board as our keynote speaker for this year’s Pique conference,” said Virginia Cebe, a ScanSource employee, President of the ScanSource Charitable Foundation, and member of TATT’s Pique planning committee. “As a Greenville native, Sallie’s connection to the Upstate is strong. I truly believe that her primary message focused on ‘Hitting Rock Middle’ will empower the young professionals attending this conference to take their careers to new heights.”
Her speech will wrap up an afternoon event with panel sessions, executive roundtables, a LinkedIn Lounge where attendees can have a professional headshot made, and plenty of opportunity for networking for the Upstate’s young professionals.
Registration and networking begin at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, March 23rd, at Huguenot Mill and Loft (101 West Broad Street, Greenville, SC 29601), with the event beginning at 2:00 p.m. A networking reception will begin at approximately 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here. For more information, visit the website or contact Sharon Purvis.
There’s really no bad time to spend time with a good book, but this time between the holidays and spring feels like a particularly good time—and what could be better on a dreary day than browsing in a cozy bookstore?
In a perfect world (well, my perfect world anyway), every small town would have a bookstore and people would support those bookstores. The predictions that independent bookstores would go the way of the dodo in the age of Amazon and downloadable audio and e-books aren’t coming true for now, which is a good thing, because those locally owned bookstores are an important part of a vibrant community.
Alas, every town in the Upstate does not have a bookstore, but there are a handful of great independent bookstores in the area that are well stocked with a curated selection of books and staffed with knowledgeable booksellers.
In Easley, Poor Richard’s Booksellers occupies the building where the original public library was housed and has been serving the Easley community for more than 30 years. Their Facebook page is worth a follow for the quirky book-related memes mixed in with the announcements of new releases and other book news.
M Judson, situated in the thick of things in downtown Greenville, right on South Main
An author event at M Judson
Street, a block away from the Peace Center and across the street from Soby’s, is a book lover’s oasis. Billing itself as “more than a bookstore”—“a literary hub, a cultural lifestyle,” M Judson hosts a variety of events, from book signings to story hours to regular songwriters’ showcases.
Contrary to its name, Fiction Addiction offers a full range of books—yes, there is plenty of fiction, but also children’s, business and finance, biography and memoir, art, Christian fiction,
Fiction Addiction’s “Book Your Lunch” event
and more. Tucked into a strip mall off of Congaree Road in Greenville behind the Haywood Mall, it might be easy to miss, but it’s worth the trip to check out their large selection or one of their events.
A different kind of book proposal inside Hub City Bookshop
In downtown Spartanburg, there is Hub City Bookshop—one of a very few nonprofit bookstores around, housed in the Masonic Temple building on West Main Street. It, along with Hub City Press, is under the parent organization of Hub City Writers Project. The Hub City Press books are on display in the front of the store, but it is very much a full-service bookstore with a wide selection of titles. They, too, have a variety of events for readers and writers.
Is a good used bookstore more your thing? There are plenty of those in the Upstate too! Here is a sampling:
Job Purpose: The mission of Ten at the Top is to foster collaboration and increase collective capacity across the 10-county Upstate SC region around issues that impact economic vitality and quality of life. The Program & Events Coordinator is responsible for coordinating, facilitating, and implementing meetings, initiatives, activities, and programs focused around key regional issues within the five driver areas of the Our Upstate Vision. In addition, the Program & Events Coordinator will serve as the staff lead around the execution of TATT’s signature regional events.
Coordinate, plan, and execute regular meetings and activities for committees around initiatives and driver areas.
Maintain regular communication with committee members and other volunteers.
Conduct research related to projects, initiatives, and driver areas.
Build relationships with stakeholders in initiatives.
Write program summaries, press releases, and support material as needed.
Update web site components with information related to initiatives and committee work as needed.
Serve as the primary coordinator for regional events with 300+ attendees.
Represent the organization in a professional manner at meetings and community events.
Be available to attend occasional early morning or evening events, as well as some travel across the Upstate.
Promote events and related information on Ten at the Top’s social media outlets, in coordination with Communications Director.
Assist with execution of in-house publications, managing databases and other projects as needed.
Full-time 40-hour per week salaried position
Salary Range: $40,000-$50,000 (depending on experience and background)
Benefits include company health insurance, paid vacation, cell phone stipend, and paid holidays
Applications will be accepted until the position is filled
Minimum of three years of full-time work experience in a professional setting
Experience coordinating workgroups, volunteers, or committees
Involvement in the execution of medium and large events
Proficiency with Microsoft Office products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher)
Writing and editing proficiency
Attention to detail and the ability to produce quality work in a timely manner
Ability to manage multiple projects or initiatives at one time
Ability to work independently and accomplish tasks with minimal daily supervision
Ability to work collaboratively in an office setting
Strong organizational, customer service, and networking skills
Experience with graphic and web design programs preferred but not required
Interested candidates should send a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to: