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 (

The PIQUE Brings Upstate Young Professionals Together

The PIQUE Brings Upstate Young Professionals Together

PIQUE: (verb) to stimulate (interest or curiosity)

As the millennial generation replaces the boomer generation in the workforce, it is important to give those young professionals their own millennial-style networking groups—and Ten at the Top has created the PIQUE, an annual event for personal and professional development opportunities.

In the spirit of collaboration, the PIQUE brings together existing young professional organizations in the Upstate. Organizations promote the event to members and in return $5 of each ticket sold to a partner organization is given back to help fund their programming and events. 2018 partner young professional organizations include: AFL Young Professionals, Clemson Young Professionals,Connect Young Professionals (Greenwood), PULSE (Greenville), Spartanburg Young Professionals, Young Professionals of Anderson County, and United Way of the Piedmont Young Leaders.

The annual event focuses on the collaboration and connection of young professionals (ages 21-40) in the ten county Upstate. The 2019 event, to be held in the spring at the Greenville One Center in Greenville, will feature four workshops, an opportunity to network with Upstate business and community leaders, a wrap-up panel hosted by the Upstate SC Alliance, and a networking reception.

The 2019 PIQUE planning committee has been hard at work planning the event for our Upstate young professionals. The committee is made up of young leaders from across the Upstate region. This year’s committee members include:

  • Rebecca Albert, Anderson University
  • Christina Auckland, Denny’s
  • Rachel Baker, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System
  • Evan Carr, EC Media
  • Virginia Cebe, Scansource
  • Laura Cox, Anderson County Economic Development
  • Michael McCarthy, Greenwood County Indicators Project
  • Elizabeth Miller, SYNNEX Corp.
  • Christopher Nicholas, Ethan Rivers, LLC
  • Leigh Ann Puryear, Duke Energy
  • Britton Rodgers, Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Sam Sloan, USC Upstate
  • Mary Pat Smith, Anderson United Way
  • Tiffany Tate, Upstate SC Alliance

If you represent a young professional organization and would like to become a partner, please contact Adelyn Nottingham ( or 864-283-2313). The event is being held from 1:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 25th at the Greenville One Center (1 N Main St, Greenville, SC 29301). Registration opens in early 2019, so mark your calendars now! Click here for more information.

Celebrating Successes, Elevate Upstate Grants, and Milestones

Celebrating Successes, Elevate Upstate Grants, and Milestones

by Sharon Purvis

This week, Ten at the Top hosted its annual Celebrating Successes event, in which companies and organizations celebrating milestone anniversaries are recognized, service awards are presented, and Elevate Upstate grant finalists make their presentation and winners are announced.

More than 200 people gathered at the Greenville Marriott for the event; attendees included representatives from the milestone organizations and Elevate Upstate finalists, along with Ten at the Top funding partners and other supporters.

More than 100 milestone entities were recognized, including Oconee and Pickens Counties and Park Seed Company celebrating 150 years in the Upstate. Next year’s celebration will include Ten at the Top’s 10th anniversary, and executive director Dean Hybl promises an extra special celebration. (If you know of a landmark anniversary that should be included next year, please email it to

Mary Ann Goodman of the 
Ninety Six Mill Village Neighborhood Association gives her Elevate Upstate grant presentation 
(photo credit: Chris Kelly/KB Photography)

The Burdette Leadership Award, named for Ten at the Top founding board member Carol Burdette, recognizes a woman in leadership who has made a significant contribution to our region, went to South Carolina state legislator Chandra Dillard, who had previously served for several years on the Greenville City Council.

Irv Welling gives the Welling Award for Regional Collaboration to Terence Roberts and Rick Danner (photo credit: Chris Kelly/KB Photography)

The Welling Award for Regional Collaboration, named for founding board member Irv Welling, went to two other founding board members, Terence Roberts and Rick Danner, mayors of Anderson and Greer, respectively. The two men have supported the collaborative efforts of Ten at the Top since its inception and continue to look outward from their towns to embrace a more regional outlook.

Last year was the fifth year in Phil Hughes’ 5-year commitment to fund the Hughes Investment Elevate Upstate Grants, and after last year’s grants were awarded, he committed to another five years. In those five years, 21 grants were awarded for a total of $67,000—exceeding Hughes’ original commitment of $10,000 per year.

As in past years, the five Elevate Upstate grant finalists each gave a four-minute presentation about their proposed community vibrancy projects. Out of 26 applications, the grant committee selected the following five finalists:

  • Centuries of Gaffney: A Walking Tour (City of Gaffney)—signage to indicate historically significant sites from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries in Gaffney
  • 1st Annual Charles Townes Art & Technology Experiment (Jeff Sumerel of Spontaneous Productions, in partnership with the Town of Travelers Rest)—laser-based light and audio installations celebrating Charles Townes, Greenville native, Furman University graduate, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics
  • IDEAS Festival: Increase Dialog about Engagement in Arts and Social justice initiatives (The Arts Center of Clemson/City of Clemson Arts& Culture Commission)—an interactive, community-based arts festival that increases engagement with the arts and social justice
  • Ninety Six Movie Night at the Park (Ninety Six Mill Village Neighborhood Association)—in a town with no movie theater, a community initiative that brings residents together to increase use of Ninety Six Mill Park
  • Environmental Art Festival (Piedmont Physic Garden, in partnership with Union County Arts Council, USC-Union, and Union County Tourism Commission)—an arts festival with the theme of “Imagine a Sustainable World,”highlighting the rich natural resources in Union County
The Elevate Upstate Grant committee deliberates 
(photo credit: Chris Kelly/KB Photography)

The two grant winners were Jeff Sumerel (who gave his presentation with the aid of a ventriloquist puppet) and the Charles Townes Art and Technology Experiment, and the Ninety Six Mill Village Neighborhood Association’s Movie Night at the Park—after project coordinator Mary Ann Goodman charmed the audience with her comedic timing in her presentation. The Union Physic Garden was runner up, receiving a $3,000 matching grant.

Left to right: Coie Switzer (Piedmont Physic Garden), Phil Hughes, Mary Ann Goodman (
Ninety Six Mill Village Neighborhood Association), Jeff Sumerel (Spontaneous Productions)
(photo credit: Chris Kelly/KB Photography)

As always, Ten at the Top thanks Phil Hughes and Hughes Investments, the grant finalists, and all of the other applicants for their contributions to community vibrancy all over the Upstate.

Ten at the Top Receives SCAPA Outstanding Planning Advocate Award

Ten at the Top Receives SCAPA Outstanding Planning Advocate Award

GREENVILLE, S.C.— Ten at the Top was selected as the 2018 Outstanding Planning Advocate by the South Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association (SCAPA), for having improved quality of life within the state. The award was presented at SCAPA’s Fall Conference held in Greenville, S.C. on November 2.

Pictured left to right:  Barry Nocks, TATT Founding Board Member; Dean Hybl, TATT Executive Director; Andrea Pietras, SCAPA President; Stephanie Monroe Tillerson, Former Upstate Professional Planners Co-Chair; Michael Forman, Upstate Professional Planners Co-Chair; Phil Lindler, Upstate Professional Planners Co-Chair.

The SCAPA Planning Awards recognize those who, through their exceptional efforts, have contributed to the advancement of the art and science of planning in South Carolina. Each of these plans, projects, organizations and individuals acknowledged have furthered the quality of life for the people of South Carolina. The awards offer one of the few opportunities that South Carolina planners and communities have to highlight the virtues of planning and recognize those who contribute to the profession.

Since 2012, Ten at the Top has convened the Upstate Professional Planners Group that includes local government as well as private planners from across the region. The group has worked collaboratively on a number of projects, including developing an Upstate Planners Tool Kit, conducting a review of all the county Comprehensive Plans in the region and serving as the technical committee for the Shaping Our Future and Connecting Our Future regional initiatives.

Dean Hybl, Executive Director of Ten at the Top, stated that he is “honored even to be considered for such an award. Planning professionals play a vital role in shaping our communities and Ten at the Top is pleased to be able to provide opportunities for discussion and collaboration around issues that are impacting how we are growing as a region.”

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.

The Fastest Growing Companies in the Upstate

The Fastest Growing Companies in the Upstate

by Sharon Purvis

In October, a luncheon in Columbia, hosted by South Carolina Business Awards and presented by The Capital Corporation, celebrated the top 25 fastest-growing companies in South Carolina—and twelve of those companies are here in the Upstate.

The qualifications for the awards are that the company must be headquartered in South Carolina, have been in operation for at least 3 fiscal years, and have reported revenues of at least $3 million in the most recent year; judging is based on financial and employee growth over a 3-year period.

Those Upstate companies that were honored at the luncheon reflect the larger trend of growth in our area. The companies include:

  • a financial services firm: WCM Global Wealth (Greenville), a diversified financial services firm specialized in providing exclusive financial products and services
  • two staffing firms that cater to technology groups: The Hiring Group (Greer), a technical staffing and recruiting firm, and Intellectual Capitol (Greenville), a staffing and technology services company that provides technology assessment and consulting, strategic staffing, and application development
  • three companies in the technical/engineering/manufacturing sector: Clear Touch Interactive (Greenville),a leading provider of multi-touch interactive flat panels for education,government, and businesses; NextGen Supply Chain (Greenville), providing consulting, engineering support, andsupply chain management services to advanced manufacturing industries such as aerospace, automotive, and medical devices; and Thomas Mechanical (Laurens), a mechanical contractor specializing in commercial/industrial HVAC services, fabrication, process piping, engineering, and maintenance services.   
  • two contracting and construction companies: Harper General Contractors (Greenville), a full service general contracting and construction management firm offering preconstruction, building information modeling, design-build, construction management at risk, LEED construction, and design-assist services; and Clayton Construction Company (Spartanburg), a general contractor that will provide preconstruction planning, project coordination, post-construction follow-up, and a range of other services based on the project.
  • two real estate companies: RealOp Investments (Greenville), a commercial real estate investment company; and National Land Realty (Greenville), a full-service real estate brokerage company specializing in farm, ranch, recreational, plantation, timber, equestrian, waterfront, and commercial land across the country. 
  • a fitness company: 9Round (Simpsonville), specialized fitness centers that bring kickboxing fitness training to the average person in a convenient, affordable, 30-minute, full-body circuit format.
  • and a food company: Duke Brands (Greenville), the holding company for Duke Foods, a manufacturer of ready-to-eat dips, spreads (most notably Duke’s Mayonnaise), and bakery items, as well as the Duke Sandwich Company restaurants.

Additionally, the following awards were handed out: Harper General Contractors, headquartered in Greenville, was presented with the South Carolina Economic Impact Award. The Rising Star was awarded to Global Sales Group (Easley). South Carolina Excellence in Business Awards went to A3 Communications (Irmo), Duke Brands (Greenville), PCI Group (Fort Mill), and Quality Business Solutions (Travelers Rest). Congratulations to all of these companies for their growth and for their contribution to the grown of the Upstate and of South Carolina.