KNOW(2)‘s BGEN (pronounced “begin”) is an inclusive initiative whose primary purpose is to advance economic development and improvement through innovation, partnerships, building community capacity, investing in next-generation business leaders and entrepreneurs. BGEN’s main activities include assisting new businesses in the startup phase to include retail space, private office space, a virtual entrepreneurship program, as well as creating and strengthening authentic partnerships with Cherokee County schools, colleges, and community organizations.

    Of the six counties in South Carolina that are part of the U.S. Appalachian Regional Commission, only Cherokee County is designated as “at-risk”. The county’s unemployment and poverty rates are comparatively high while educational achievement and per capita income are comparatively low.

    The City of Gaffney and the surrounding county have a long history of success in manufacturing, but few local entrepreneurs. Gaffney could be an excellent location for many different types of companies with direct access to 1-85 and two international airports only 45 minutes away. Downtown Gaffney boasts stunning architecture and a walkable layout with three districts on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2015, Gaffney became a certified Main Street Community designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. An analysis conducted during the application process reported a need for a younger, innovative business community which could lead to (1) more innovation, (2) more professional jobs for local college graduates, (3) a boost to the struggling downtown area, and (4) a significant positive economic impact on the overall community. Aside from the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce with very limited resources, there was a shortage of local support capacity for new business development. While there are two local colleges, few of the professional level graduates are retained in Gaffney. Limestone University has an MBA program whose graduates find scant local opportunities. Spartanburg Community College (Cherokee Campus) has a new mechatronics facility that will teach highly valuable machine and electronic skills, yet much of this newly trained talent will find work elsewhere. The community desires for these graduates to stay but Gaffney does not have a strong diversity of good, professional-level jobs and until BGEN, there was no one to help them on the path to developing those skills into a viable business. BGEN was designed to address these challenges.

    BGEN has been led by Brian Ziegelheafer since March 1, 2016. Mr. Ziegelheafer has been a key player in the overall success of BGEN. From managing the construction and design of the physical space, program direction, development of the branding, graphic design, web development, entrepreneur recruitment, and the overall management of the day-to-day operations, Mr. Ziegelheafer has been the driving force behind BGEN’s rapid success.

    Thanks to the partnership and generosity of the City of Gaffney who provides BGEN our building at no charge, Cherokee County, and numerous businesses and people that donate to KNOW2 (that would be too much to list here), we are still here serving the needs of entrepreneurs and small business startups in Cherokee County. In 2021, we added local entrepreneur and small business specialist Natalie Claire Bradley to BGEN’s staff as Assistant Director. We just doubled in size within the last year to 7000 sq. ft and now include modern, private office space that in turn added more retail pop-up space opportunities. Our most recent graduates of BGEN are Zakary’s Coffee Shop and Broad River Boutique. Both are located in retail spaces downtown. Our current list of residents as of March 2022:

    With continued support, KNOW2’s BGEN will always be the hub of progressive and innovative thinking, action, leadership, and training for our resident entrepreneurs as well as our local and extended business community of Cherokee County, SC.












    KNOW(2) – Helping to Encourage a Healthier Cherokee County

    KNOW(2) – Helping to Encourage a Healthier Cherokee County

    By Teresa Spires, Executive Director, KNOW(2)

    With spring in the air, KNOW(2) is working to encourage Cherokee County residents to make healthier choices, be more active, and eat better. On April 2nd, we will host our first annual Cherokee Rock & Ride event at the Lake Whelchel Trail, 358 Pleasant School Road in Gaffney. The day starts with a series of mountain trail bike races around Lake Whelchel on the relatively new trail. Both professional and hobby riders are welcome to sign up and participate. Registration and information is available at

    The event will also include a community festival with music, children’s activities, a community resource and health fair, and a beer garden. Nonprofits and businesses interested in participating in the resource fair can contact KNOW(2) to register. Admission to the event is free and open to the public. The Cherokee Rock & Ride is sponsored by the Gaffney Board of Public Works, Brown Packing Company, Blakely Funeral Home & Crematory, Piedmont Natural Gas and the Cherokee Medical Center. The bike race starts at 9 am and the community festival kicks off at 11 am. The professional riders will start at 11:30. All activities are expected to end at 4 pm.

    KNOW(2) will also celebrate the one-year anniversary of our FoodShare Cherokee hub during the Rock & Ride. FoodShare Cherokee provides a fresh food box of healthy fruits and vegetables to anyone in the community every two weeks for only $15. SNAP recipients pay only 5 SNAP dollars for their box. Since the program is about improving eating habits in the community, it is open to everyone. Each box contains 9-12 different produce items and weighs between 15-25 pounds. Food comes from the state Farmer’s Market and from local farmers (in season), so it is very fresh. Residents wishing to order a box can contact FoodShare Cherokee through our Facebook page or by emailing

    FoodShare Cherokee partners with the Cherokee County School District to provide the program. Boxes are packed by students at the Ola Copeland Community Learning Center when school is in session. During the summer and holidays volunteer adults and families are invited to come and see how the program works by participating in packing boxes. Students at the Learning Center get practical lessons in math, science, following directions, teamwork, and safe food handling.  FoodShare Cherokee’s motto is feeding a need in our community.

    Wholespire Cherokee, the public health task force of KNOW(2), worked with the South Carolina Office of Rural Health in 2020 and 2021 to study the public health data in the county and discuss ways to encourage people to make healthier choices. Of particular concern is the county’s high obesity rate, which is almost ten percent higher than the state average. Access to grocery stores with healthy options was also of concern as many of our county’s lower income residents lack access to reliable transportation and no public transportation exists in the county. FoodShare Cherokee is the first step that this group is taking to work on the issues. The Wholespire Cherokee task force represents a broad group of stakeholders in the public health and education communities. They meet monthly to share information and continue to work on improving public health in our community.

    At the Cherokee Rock & Ride, KNOW(2) will have sample fresh food boxes available and will be raffling several off during the day. We also plan to have cooking demonstrations and other public health activities. To date, FoodShare Cherokee has provided almost 1,800 fresh food boxes, which is over 31,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables into the community.

    KNOW(2) is a unique organization focused on making Cherokee County a better place to live, work, learn, and play. We are a connector, facilitator, supporter and advocate for many initiatives in the county. KNOW(2) focuses primarily on education, public health, economic development/entrepreneurship development, and families and youth at-risk. We have a large volunteer base and incorporate 100s of stakeholders into our work each year. Since our work is narrowly focused geographically, but broadly focused functionally, it is often difficult to explain; however, most people know that if something is happening in Cherokee County, KNOW(2) is likely involved in the actual work or in the background supporting the effort.

    UEE Partner Workshop Recap

    UEE Partner Workshop Recap

    UEE Partner Workshop Show Me the Paper Trail! March 1, 2022 The 2022 Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem Partner Workshop Series kicked off today on Zoom with Ana Parra of CommunityWorks Women’s Business Center presenting “Show Me the Paper Trail! Identifying the Important Financial Data.” Ana noted the importance of setting up a financial binder with personal and business documents, and how to transition from one to another. The goal is to get “loan ready” so documents are readily available to help entrepreneurs make decisions regarding starting a business, purchases, hiring, and growth. The binder also tells your story if eventually you want to apply for a loan or any kind of financial assistance. Click here to watch a recording of the workshop and here to view the presentation. The SC Small Business Development Center, the Women’s Business Center of CommunityWorks, and Piedmont SCORE are offering this series to provide tools and tips for you to assess the financial health of your small business. The second and third of the series continue April 5 with Organizing the Numbers, and on May 3 with Translating the Numbers into Financial Goals. Register here for both virtual workshops.

    For April 5 –

    For May 3 –