2022 Celebrating Successes Awardees

    2022 Celebrating Successes Awardees

    Ten at the Top (TATT) hosted their 12th Annual Celebrating Successes event, presented by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, on November 16th at Greenville Convention Center. The event included the selection of the 2022 Hughes Investments Elevate Upstate grant recipients as well as the 2022 recipients of two regional leadership awards. 

    Since its inception in 2013, The Hughes Investments Elevate Upstate Grants program has provided funds for more than 30 community vibrancy initiatives across the Upstate. Three recipients were selected from the six finalists and more than a dozen applications to receive grants of $5,000 each for this year: the City of Inman, the Town of Honea Path, and the City of Mauldin.  

    The City of Inman was selected for their “I”Marks the Spot Scavenger Hunt project, which will be an interactive scavenger hunt in which participants will learn about the history of Inman while exploring the community.

    The Town of Honea Path plans to reinstate the successful Honea Path’s Got Talent event that originated in 2012 with programs spanning over several weeks, featuring local talent, and providing an opportunity for gathering and enjoying the local community.

    In addition, Hughes Investments is providing a grant to the City of Mauldin to grow and promote vibrancy efforts in the Bridgeway Station development, which will open in the coming months.

    “Creating vibrancy in Upstate communities is such an important part of making this region a leading place to live and raise a family,” said Dean Hybl, Executive Director of Ten at the Top. “The Elevate Upstate Grants is a great way to grow vibrancy in the region. All six finalists presented exciting projects and it was a tough choice for the selection committee. I am excited for the projects to be implemented in 2023.”

    In addition to the Elevate Upstate Grants selection, the annual event also included the recognition of the recipients of the Burdette Leadership Award and the Welling Award for Regional Collaboration.

    This marks the seventh year of the Burdette Leadership Award, which is given in recognition of Carol Burdette, the first female chair of Ten at the Top. This award honors women who have both served and led across the Upstate. Previous recipients of the Burdette Award are Dr. Fay Sprouse, Beth Padgett, Minor Shaw, Dr. Becky Campbell, SC Representative Chandra Dillard, and outgoing SC Representative Rita Allison. 

    The recipient this year was Dr. Beatrice Thompson, the first female and African American elected to Anderson City Council, a position she has maintained since 1976, and the Executive Director of the Westside Community Center. 

    Born in Townville, South Carolina, Dr. Thompson received her high school diploma from Reed Street School, which was the Anderson County High School for African American children. She went on to earn a B.A. degree from South Carolina State College, two masters’ degrees (from Howard University and Atlanta University) and a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Georgia. She was an educator in Anderson School District 5 for 38 years. In 1976 she became the first African-American elected to the Anderson City Council, a seat she still holds. She was the president of the South Carolina Municipal Association from 1988-1990. She helped open the Westside Community Center in 1998 and remains in the role of Executive Director. After the police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, Dr. Thompson worked with local law enforcement leaders in Anderson to start a community dialogue that has become known as the “Dream Team”. This group has helped grow relationships between the Anderson Community and local law enforcement.

    The Welling Award for Regional Collaboration, named after Ten at the Top founding chairman Irv Welling, recognizes individuals who have demonstrated longstanding involvement in encouraging collaboration across jurisdictional and stakeholder boundaries. Previous recipients of the Welling Award include Erwin Maddrey, Phil Hughes, GSP International Airport, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Michelin North America, Dean Hybl, Minor Shaw, Carol Burdette, Rick Danner, Terence Roberts, Bobby Hitt, Neal Workman, and Clemson University.

    The two recipients for 2022 are a pair of Spartanburg residents, Todd Horne and Erin Ouzts.

    A native of Greenville, Todd Horne attended USC Upstate and has remained actively involved in the Spartanburg community over the last two decades. In 2020 he was named the President of Clayton Construction Company (CCC) after having served in the role of VP of Business Development since 2008. A member of Spartanburg Chamber’s SYP Young Professional group and was just 32 years old when he became chairman of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce (now known as OneSpartanburg) Board of Directors.

     He helped raise the funds to support the Spartanburg Five-Year Strategic Plan that launched the OneSpartanburg initiative, and recently led fundraising for the second five years. He was also among the group of Spartanburg Leaders who helped support the return of the BMW Pro-Am to Spartanburg in 2022. 

    In addition to his engagement in Spartanburg, Todd has been actively involved at the regional and state level. He joined the TATT Board of Directors in 2014 and spearheaded the creation of TATT’s annual regional Young Professionals event Pique. He is currently serving as TATT’s First Vice President after previously serving as treasurer and is scheduled to be chairman in 2024-2025. He also is a graduate of Leadership South Carolina.

    Building an ecosystem to support entrepreneurship has been a passion for Erin Ouzts for more than 25 years. She has been actively involved in all elements of the process from incubation to financing and now through the Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem supporting and promoting the resource providers who work directly with entrepreneurs. 

    Erin has been involved with TATT’s work promoting Entrepreneurial Vitality since 2012, first as co-chair of the task force and since 2019 as the director of the Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem. Erin has built connections between support providers and entrepreneurs across the entire 10-county region. In 2021, she helped TATT launch the Start-Grow-Upstate Regional Repository for entrepreneur resources.

     In 2022 she helped TATT secure a Relentless Challenge grant from the SC Department of Commerce to start the Start-Grow Upstate Resource Navigator program in counties across the region. The purpose of the program is to connect rural innovators to the innovation ecosystem. The first class of navigators from Greenwood county graduated in August 2022. Additional classes are underway or planned for Pickens, Cherokee and Anderson counties. Erin will be retiring from her work with TATT and the Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem at the end of November.


    About Ten at the Top

    Composed 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 www.tenatthetop.org

    2022 Elevate Upstate Grant Summaries – Finalists

    2022 Elevate Upstate Grant Summaries – Finalists

    “I” Marks the Spot Scavenger Hunt – City of Inman (Inman)

    “I” Marks the Spot will be a scavenger hunt in our downtown/Historic district. Our vision for this project is to develop an interactive scavenger hunt in our downtown. We believe that this will be of value to our community in many ways. The plan is to use a combination of bronze peach place markers and “vanishing” paint to create an interactive scavenger hunt for people to use to explore our downtown and learn about important pieces of our history, along with current places of importance. 


    Children’s Art in the Park – The Shaw Center (Clemson)

    Neighborhood children will be invited to participate in painting individual boards to create a fun, diverse, and eclectic picket fence. The fence will serve as a backdrop for the park located in the middle of the neighborhood. They will be provided with a single board (already painted with primer), a variety of paint colors, a protective apron, and brushes and other painting supplies. They will be instructed to paint to represent their family, themselves, their neighborhood, things they love to do, Monarch butterflies – endless possibilities. We will also include educational information for them about Monarch butterflies and the recent recognition of Clemson as a Monarch City, so butterflies will be an option to include in their artwork. To incorporate an educational opportunity in collaboration with the SC Botanical Gardens, we plan to offer a field trip offered through the Littlejohn Community Center and CatBUS. The kids can apply what they learned by illustrating through painting on the fence boards. The Arts Center staff will also provide artists to help the kids brainstorm and sketch ideas before actually painting their boards. 


    Honea Path’s Got Talent – Town of Honea Path (Honea Path)

    The Honea Path Planning Committee plans to reinstitute a successful one-time event that happened over 6 years ago: Honea Path’s Got Talent. This one-season event was very popular, but the event organizer only intended to provide the event for one year. The Town of Honea Path is under new leadership for the past 3 years and has placed a high priority on revitalizing the downtown by adding and enhancing events that draw tourists from surrounding areas to Honea Path. Honea Path’s Got Talent will be a reinvented 6-week event allowing people of all ages and backgrounds in Honea Path and the surrounding areas to showcase their talent. 


    Open Doors Studio Tours Spartanburg – Artists Collective of Spartanburg (Spartanburg)

    The Open Doors Studio Tour is a chance to showcase the unique talents and diversity of the visual arts community of Spartanburg County. The Artists Collective Spartanburg is working with a committee of arts professionals and organizations from the area to establish the event. None of these organizations are funding Open Doors, and the event could be coordinated by any of these organizations in the future. The Open Doors Studio Tour is a self-guided 2-day event that is free to the public. Participating artists will open their studios to show and sell their work from 10 AM – 5 PM on Saturday, April 22, and from 12 – 5 PM on Sunday, April 23. Visitors will be directed by a map on the Open Doors Website, and a printed map inside the Open Doors catalog. 


    Polar Experience – City of Clinton (Clinton)

    With the closest movie theater being over 30-minutes away, many children in Clinton will never get to experience what it is like to see a movie on the big screen. However, by bringing the big screen to the depot, they could finally get to experience something magical.  The Polar Express is all about a magical experience that will be brought to life, not only for the children but also for the adults. With hot cocoa all around and the chairs nicely spaced out with a chill in the air, nothing says winter is here like the Polar Express. 

    Ten at the Top to Host Elevate Upstate Grant Workshop on July 14th

    Ten at the Top to Host Elevate Upstate Grant Workshop on July 14th

    Greenville, SC l July 6, 2021 — After taking off a year due to the Global Pandemic, the 2021 grant period for the Hughes Investments Elevate Upstate Grants is currently open. On July 14th, Ten at the Top will host a workshop to guide applicants through the process and parameters of the grants. The workshop is from 1:30-3:00 p.m. at their event space at Park 37, 250 Executive Center Drive in Greenville.

    Since 2013, Hughes Investments has provided nearly $100,000 in funds to 30 local communities as part of the Elevate Upstate Community Vibrancy Grant program. The purpose of the Elevate Upstate Grants is to identify and provide initial funding support for community-based programs that promote community and economic vibrancy in local areas across the Upstate.

    “The Elevate Upstate Grants are for those wishing to bring new life to their communities—a spark, a fresh idea, a new tradition—something that will excite the public and bring people together from all walks of life in a new way,” said Phil Hughes, President of Hughes Investments, Inc.

    The workshop will include an overview of the program by Dean Hybl, Phil Hughes and three-time Elevate Upstate grant recipient Jonathan Irick from the City of Laurens Main Street Program.

    “The last year has definitely been different and especially challenging for creating community vibrancy,” said Dean Hybl, Executive Director of Ten at the Top. “Phil Hughes and Hughes Investments has long been a local champion around encouraging community vibrancy and we are pleased that the Elevate Upstate Grants will again be available for communities and organizations in 2021.”

    The grant period opened June 1st with an initial interest form due by August 13th and the completed applications due by September 17th. Two grants of $5,000 each will be awarded at Ten at the Top’s Annual Celebrating Successes event on November 17th, where finalists will have the opportunity to present their proposed project before a final judgment is made.

    The Elevate Upstate Grant Workshop is free and open to the public, but advance registration is requested. You can learn more about the workshop and register through this link.

    The Charles Townes Art and Technology Experience

    The Charles Townes Art and Technology Experience

    Quick—who was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in physics? If you came up with Greenville native and Furman graduate Charles Townes (extra points if you also came up with Nikolay Basov and Alexander Prokhorov, who received the award with him), then you’re going to love the Charles Townes Art and Technology Experience this Friday night in Travelers Rest. And if you didn’t come up with his name, you should definitely go see (and experience) the interactive art installation that uses light and sound to inspire curiosity and experimentation in viewers of all ages.

    Created by multimedia artists Jeff Sumerel and Goda Rupeikaitė-Sumerel, the project was funded in part by a Hughes Investments Elevate Upstate grant, awarded last year at Ten at the Top’s Celebrate Successes event.

    The husband-and-wife team were not, in fact, husband and wife when they began collaborating, but Goda’s work as a documentary director and producer as well as post-production specialist meshed with Jeff’s work as a documentary filmmaker—and they have become collaborators in life as well as in work.

    According to a press release about this installation, “Jeff Sumerel and Goda Rupeikaitė-Sumerel create notable, one-of-a-kind stage and film works using traditional and non-traditional methods of production and collaboration to create entertaining, thought-provoking and memorable experiences for diverse audiences.”

    Sumeral hopes that the curiosity sparked by this event will turn it into an annual event, bringing others in to create something new each year.

    Asked what drew him to Townes, he says he was looking for a well-known Greenville native to celebrate, much like the town of Cheraw, SC has done with native son Dizzie Gillespie. He landed on Townes because “his spirit of curiosity, exploration, and risk-taking resonated not only with those working in science and technology but also those in the arts,” Sumeral says.

    Photo credit: Alfred Eisenstaedt

    So what exactly is an art and technology experience, and what can visitors expect? It’s not a laser show, nor a grand presentation or in-depth narrative about Townes, Sumeral explains. Rather, he says, it’s “an outdoor abstract multimedia installation that runs every 5 minutes,” with “a minimalistic film projection and audio soundtrack that incorporates quotes from Townes.”

    Just bring your curiosity to the football field at Gateway Park in Travelers Rest on Friday, October 11th, between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m., to experience it for yourself! And if you find yourself wanting to know more about Townes, you can read about him here.

    by Sharon Purvis

    Union’s Environmental Art and Music Festival Celebrates Art and Nature

    Union’s Environmental Art and Music Festival Celebrates Art and Nature

    In 2018, Union’s Piedmont Physic Garden applied for an Elevate Upstate grant to help pay for a unique kind of festival: an art and music festival, but one that focuses on conservation and environmental awareness. For the first time in the five years that Hughes Investments had been awarding the grants, in addition to the winning projects, the PCC was awarded a matching grant of $3000 for the festival—and that was the impetus for raising the remaining funds ($1500 each from Union City Council and Union County Council) and getting the community behind the project.

    Coie Switzer, director of the Piedmont Physic Garden, says, “We want to thank Ten at the Top and Hughes Investments for giving The Environmental Art and Music Festival its start. The $3,000 matching grant gave us the boost we needed to start this positive community vibrancy initiative in Union.”

    In addition to the Piedmont Physic Garden, six other groups have come alongside to partner in this endeavor: USC-Union, Union County Tourism, Union County Arts Council, Union County Historical Society, Union Carnegie Library, and Union County Chamber of Commerce. The fruits of their labor will be realized this weekend, with the first-ever Environmental Art and Music Festival.

    The festival celebrates Union County’s natural beauty and culture. It will take place in the heart of historic downtown Union, SC. The Vendor Village will take place on the campus of USC-Union’s Patrons Park, including food trucks and a mix of craftsmen, artists, and others whose works are based on sustaining natural products and resources. Click here to read more about it, from Linda Wilburn Weber of the PCC.

    The festival will also include art exhibits at USC-Union’s Main Building, the Union County Museum, the Piedmont Physic Garden, the Union County Arts Council gallery and the Union Carnegie Library in addition to a Main Street Arts Stroll.

    FREE outdoor music concerts will be held on Friday and Saturday nights at USC-Union’s Patron’s Park.

    Schedule of Events

    THURSDAY, SEPT. 26th Union County Arts Council 2019 Annual Art Exhibition Award Ceremony & Opening Reception @USC-Union Main Building 6 PM

    Vendor Village @ USC-Union’s Patrons Park 10 AM – 5 PM
    UCAC 2019 Annual Art Exhibition @ USC-Union’s Main Building 10 AM – 5 PM
    Sculpture Exhibit @ Piedmont Physic Garden 10 AM – 5 PM
    Children and Teen Art Exhibit @ Union Carnegie Library 10 AM – 5 PM
    Art Exhibit featuring Eola Dent at Union County Museum 10 AM – 5 PM
    Art Exhibit featuring Thomas A. Tucker at UCAC Gallery 10 AM – 5 PM
    Main Street Art Stroll 10 AM – 5 PM
    Free Family-Friendly Bluegrass Concert featuring Tri County Express @ USC-Union’s Patrons Park 5 PM – 7 PM
    Free Rock Concert featuring Dazed Renegade @USC-Union’s Patrons Park 7 PM – 9 PM

    Vendor Village @ USC-Union’s Patrons Park 10 AM – 5 PM
    UCAC 2019 Annual Art Exhibition @ USC-Union’s Main Building 10 AM – 5 PM
    Sculpture Exhibit @ Piedmont Physic Garden 10 AM – 5 PM
    Children and Teen Art Exhibit @ Union Carnegie Library 10 AM – 5 PM
    Art Exhibit featuring Eola Dent at Union County Museum 10 AM – 5 PM
    Art Exhibit featuring Thomas A. Tucker at UCAC Gallery 10 AM – 5 PM
    Main Street Art Stroll 10 AM – 5 PM
    Live Music featuring Jordan Lawson 12 PM – 2 PM
    Free concert featuring Nashville musician and Grammy nominated songwriter, Robert Arthur and Union band, QUEST @ USC-Union’s Patrons Park 7 PM – 9 PM


    Elevating the Upstate with Grants Since 2013

    Elevating the Upstate with Grants Since 2013

    One of last year’s winners was the 96 Mill Village Association’s Movie in the Park series.

    Every year in June, Ten at the Top opens the application period for $5000 Elevate Upstate grants, given out every year for programs, projects, and initiatives that promote community vibrancy.

    Since 2013, Hughes Investments, Inc. has provided $80,000 in funds to 24 local communities as part of the Elevate Upstate Community Vibrancy Grant program.

    What is community vibrancy, anyway? Think of the things in your own community that make you proud to live where you live, that get you out of your house and interacting with your neighbors. Things that make your streets more attractive and celebrate what makes your community unique. Those are things that make your community vibrant.

    Phil Hughes, president of Hughes Investments, says, “The Elevate Upstate Grants are for those wishing to bring new life to their communities—a spark, a fresh idea, a new tradition—something that will excite the public and bring people together from all walks of life in a new way.”

    One of the winners from 2013, the first year the grants were awarded, has become a popular annual event in Greer.

    Past Elevate Upstate grant winners include public art projects, interactive outdoor education, downtown music, a food truck plaza, and more. The key element is that the proposed initiative will increase community vibrancy and sense of place and benefit the community as a whole. Take a look at the list of past winners here, with some video clips that explain the projects.

    Do you have a community vibrancy project that could use some funds to get off the ground? Do you want to find out more about how to navigate the process of applying for an Elevate Upstate grant? On July 16th, we’ll be hosting an Elevate Upstate Grant Workshop here at our event facility, and we’d love to see you there.

    The town of West Pelzer capitalized on its designation as a bird sanctuary and created an educational art installation of bird houses along Main Street.

    You’ll hear from Mary Anne Goodman from the Ninety Six Mill Village Association, who successfully applied for a grant to fund a community movie night. You’ll also hear from Coie Switzer and Curtiss Hunter from the Union Environmental Art and Music Festival, who were runners up and received a matching grant—and how they got the support they needed to launch their event a year ahead of schedule.

    For those interested in applying, an interest form is due by August 1st and the completed applications due by September 16th. Two grants of $5,000 each will be awarded at Ten at the Top’s annual Celebrating Successes event in November, where finalists will have the opportunity to present their proposed project before a final judgment is made.

    Article by Sharon Purvis