By Allen Smith President & CEO, OneSpartanburg, Inc.
Spartanburg has a lot to celebrate.
In 2021, Spartanburg County was ranked the #1 Small Metro in the U.S. for Economic Growth, and the #4 Metro overall, by Stessa, a tool specializing in property information for real estate investors and developers. The county’s prowess was clear in the rankings, as Spartanburg ranked behind only three Midsize Metros — Huntsville, Ala., Sarasota, Fl., and Port St. Lucie, Fl. — and ahead of every Large Metro included in the analysis.
2022 further cemented Spartanburg’s success, as the County soared past the $2-billion mark in new economic investment, including a historic $1.7 billion investment from BMW Group.
The German automaker with a 30-year presence in Spartanburg County will spend $1 billion on upgrades and infrastructure at BMW Plant Spartanburg, its largest by-volume in the world, in preparation of manufacturing six fully-electric vehicles. In addition, a $700-million electric-vehicle battery-assembly plant will be built in Woodruff, in the southern part of Spartanburg County.
Proving Spartanburg as a hub for the future of mobility, the announcement comes on the heels of a $2.98-billion order from the United States Postal Service for Next Generation Delivery Vehicles, to be made in Spartanburg by newcomer Oshkosh Defense.
Despite its undeniable success in advanced manufacturing, Spartanburg claims it is just getting started.
The OneSpartanburg Vision Plan, a five-year countywide community and economic development strategy launched in 2017, set Spartanburg’s sights on a more diversified economy. OneSpartanburg, Inc., the Carolinas only consolidated business, economic, and tourism development entity, created the plan with reams of data and community input. Now under the OneSpartanburg Vision Plan 2.0, the collaborative continues to drive recommendations in talent, economy, and place.
Recognizing the impact of quality of place on a community’s ability to attract corporate jobs and talented people, Spartanburg is making significant investments.
The Daniel Morgan Trail System, known as The Dan, will soon unite more than 50 miles of trails across Spartanburg County, with intentional connections to living hubs, blueways, and a recently completed connection through Downtown Spartanburg.
Leading trail development nonprofit PAL: Play, Advocate, Live Well, is working to purchase and convert a portion of the Saluda Grade. When complete, the 31-mile Saluda Grade Rail Trail connecting western North Carolina to Spartanburg County on the steepest grade rail trail in the U.S. is sure to attract investment and people from across the country.
Another amenity catching attention is Main Street-Morgan Square, Downtown Spartanburg’s central gathering space which begun its transition to a pedestrianized area during the COVID-19 pandemic. Developers have raved over the concept of a European-style square with space for outdoor dining and strategic programming. Investors, companies and residents alike have found Downtown Spartanburg increasingly attractive.
This year alone, Downtown Spartanburg announced more than $86-million of mixed-use investment on Main Street, two new Class-A office buildings, and the attraction of three high growth headquarters.
Plans for a planetarium downtown are even in the works. The science-and education-fueled facility would be built next door to the Spartanburg County Headquarters Library, creating an enlarged space for educational programming for local families.
Work outlined by the OneSpartanburg Vision Plan 2.0 will have significant impact on two key areas fueling Spartanburg County’s future: tourism development and talent attraction and retention.
Some of that work has already begun.
Fueled by data included processes used to create the Vision Plan 2.0, OneSpartanburg, Inc. created two new positions that will lead crucial countywide strategies impacting the county’s population, workforce, and economy.
Leading talent-related recommendations will be Chief Talent Officer Jeremy Vince. Vince will work closely with community partners and employers to address various talent attraction, development, and retention needs with an eye toward data. In addition, he is leading a countywide Talent Gap Analysis to determine current and future needs.
Data also showed that small and minority business ownership lagged across Spartanburg County, so the Vision Plan 2.0 will lead to a strategy in partnership with the City of Spartanburg, Spartanburg County, and other business and workforce entities countywide.
Jay Jenkins, who has extensive experience working with small-and minority-owned businesses across the region, will serve as Director of Small and Minority Business Development to ensure small-and minority-owned businesses are part of the overall economic success story of Spartanburg County.
Spartanburg continues leading South Carolina in investment total and job creation, earning national and international acclaim for its business, economic, and tourism development success.
Ensuring as many people benefit from this success is an important goal of not only the Vision Plan 2.0, but a host of collaborative-minded organizations across Spartanburg County.
As those key partners continue their diligent work to improve Spartanburg into the future, new investments from around the globe will continue to choose the county for many of the reasons outlined here. And our success would not be possible without the continued investment, resources, and influence of public and private sector partners.
After an incredible 2021 and a momentous 2022, 2023 promises big things for Spartanburg.
Our agency works well as a unit among the staff involving local businesses and individuals to volunteer to deliver meals and our own transportation department in transporting meals when necessary. Most of these individuals receive visits daily from volunteers. Through our programming we increase senior’s ability to remain independent and at home for as long as possible and delays long term care treatment. Our programs provide a low-cost, community-based service that makes a huge difference in the lives of our communities’ older citizens and their families.
The agency also operates the first Intergenerational Child Care Center in South Carolina, Lifetime Discoveries Daycare as well as a Foster Grandparent program in each county. Lifetime Discoveries provides childcare for children between the ages of 1 – 13. The children share space and interact with senior adults within our program. The Foster Grandparent program allows senior adults to be placed in schools to help tutor and nurture children development and learning.
The agency is supported by approximately 300 active volunteers. The majority of these volunteers deliver meals or work alongside staff in our senior centers. Our agency employees over 65 employees. . We drive between 11,000 – 12,000 miles a month.
Piedmont Agency on Aging has proven to have strong ties in our community with its 51-year history. Since its beginning in 1971, Piedmont went from serving the two counties of Greenwood and Abbeville to later expand to Laurens and Saluda Counties. The agency is supported through state and local funds. Donations are essential to help offset the cost of fund and gas, that is not fully supported through state funding. Individuals can always give of their time by delivering Meals on Wheels in the community they live.
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
In 2015, the City of Anderson staff knew that entrepreneurism was on the rise in the community, but these emerging business owners needed a space to collaborate, connect, and rejuvenate. Often, being a small business owner can be isolating, and finding solutions to problems can seem like a daunting task. One Million Cups, a Kauffman Foundation national program, was born to support entrepreneurism in Anderson and foster community within the business realm. The program took an ordinary Wednesday morning and turned it into a signature time to reflect, connect, and spark business success! In 2019, the City of Anderson staff was encouraged to reimagine the program with a hyperlocal approach, one that would best serve Anderson business owners and their needs. The Brew was born from a collaboration of local business owners and City officials, marking the beginning of a signature program that would impact many communities across the state of South Carolina.
With a focus on the Anderson area, The Brew serves as a time for entrepreneurs to share their struggles, successes, and brainstorm together, finding common ground along the way. Our motto is “Business Ideas with Community Feedback.” Each week, an entrepreneur presents their business, explaining why they started the business, what products or services they offer, and then end their 10-minute presentation with a few questions seeking the audience’s feedback. These questions must involve a challenge they are facing or an area in which they want to grow their business. Questions vary from topics as small as increasing foot traffic to overcoming negative connotations about their industry. The audience then helps the business owner come up with solutions and creative ideas to overcome the challenges at hand. Even though someone is not speaking about their business every week, much is to be learned from other’s failures and successes. No one is there to sell but everyone is there to help! It is collaboration at its core, and many innovative ideas have been birthed on Wednesday mornings over coffee and conversation at The Brew.
The success of The Brew was infectious, and soon neighboring communities started to hear about the program that was rocking Anderson’s entrepreneurial scene. Other communities began adopting the program, making it their own and enjoying the success of the program once started to serve Anderson business owners. After two years, the program is hosted in 8 communities in South Carolina, and looking to gain traction in future markets! It is a free program waiting to be adopted by other cities interested in making a splash in their entrepreneurial scene. It is completely free to start a Brew community, and a great way to provide genuine networking without the awkward shaking of hands and exchanging of business cards. Wednesday mornings are electrified in all 8 communities due to The Brew!
Providing a space for creativity and entrepreneurism to flourish has led to new business endeavors, changing of business models, rebrands, and so much more within the Anderson community. It has encouraged our small business owners to push themselves, learn new skills, and see what Anderson wants from them. The audience is diverse with entrepreneurs, realtors, Chamber staff, nonprofit leaders, stay-at-home moms, and even retirees. The Brew has given them an opportunity to share their voice with the small business owners in the community about things they would like to see or ways their shopping/dining experience could be better. This program has changed the way Anderson communicates about small business. Everyone is there to cheer each other on and see Anderson be the best it can be!
With each community coming onboard with The Brew, it continues to take a life of its own in its new home. The program has a different flair at each site, but that is exactly what the City of Anderson had in mind when creating the signature networking event. Whether your town is rural, booming with business success, struggling to get downtown on the map, or maybe just looking to encourage business collaboration, The Brew might be the answer for you! You would be surprised at what a cup of coffee and conversation could do for your community! If you are interested in starting a Brew in your hometown, reach out to Sara Wright (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Caroline Gaddis (email@example.com) for more information! We can’t wait to see what’s brewing next!
~ Caroline Gaddis & Sara Wright / City of Anderson Economic Development
As we celebrate this wonderful season of Thanksgiving, my heart runs over with memories and joy.
It’s hard to believe that 45 years have passed since I founded Mobile Meals. In some ways it seems like yesterday. We deeply appreciate each person who has delivered meals or played a special role in Delivering God’s Love in Action through Mobile Meals to our meal recipients. You are each so important and I am deeply thankful for you.
During Covid we lost 60% of our volunteer drivers and we still have serious needs for substitute drivers and folks that would take a weekly or every other weekly route. Some became ill and can’t return and, sadly, we lost some precious lives to Covid.
We thank all the volunteers who helped us never fail to deliver the same number of meals all through the tough Covid times (many delivering more than 1 route), when most charities had to cease their mission.
Mobile Meal’s Board Chair, Rick Dent, shares – “The thing that impressed me the most about delivering meals was the expressed sincere appreciation by the recipients for my time and effort. Each one was so pleased to see me at their door with their meal.”
Those who deliver range from children with a parent or grandparent, seniors with a friend or businesses with a co-worker. Colleges, churches, banks, businesses and First Responders have the joy of delivering meals so the folks on their routes can remain in their own home.
We ask that you please share our volunteer needs with your family, neighbors, churches and businesses.
Our donors are needed annually as well as our volunteers. We are not a government agency and are totally dependent upon our community to support this ministry financially and with the servant’s heart of volunteerism.
Let me share a few verses of a wonderful poem which tells our meals story:
Come live inside my old body and stare at the view
distorted blurred vision may be unpleasant for you.
Sure I have children why do you ask?
They love me dearly they would perform any task.
I don’t want to bother them they are so busy – you see.
They must live their own lives I don’t want them worrying about
I sit here all day in this tattered old gown
Wishing I could dress up and drive into town
There’s a picture of my Henry in my Mothers old trunk
And boxes of good books, old magazines and junk
Sometimes I forget one day from the other,
And spend a lot of time talking to my dead mother.
I want to go back and sit on her lap
Or curl in her arms and take a long afternoon nap.
Then I remember I’m not a child at all!
Just a lonely old woman who stares at the wall.
I’m getting cold now – where’s my blanket and scarf,
Perhaps I should sit closer to the fireside’s warm hearth
Should I fall asleep and my heart turns to stone,
Bless those who brought a meal so I could stay in my home.
Come live within my old body and see how I feel
When an angel of mercy brings a home delivered meal!
Have a blessed Thanksgiving – I pray no one will be hungry or neglected!
Ten at the Top is pleased to announce Craig Scharton is taking over responsibility for its entrepreneurship initiatives, commonly referred to as the Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem. He replaces Erin Ouzts who volunteered for 10 years before officially creating the role in 2019. Erin is retiring from her work at Ten at the Top to focus on other ecosystem needs and family.
“Supporting entrepreneurship and specifically the service providers who support entrepreneurship within our region has been a key driver area within Ten at the Top since the beginning of the organization,” said TATT Executive Director Dean Hybl. “Erin Ouzts has done an amazing job cultivating relationships and building awareness of the importance of having a strong entrepreneur ecosystem. I especially want to thank her for all she has done to support entrepreneurship in the Upstate.”
“Erin will be tough to replace, but we are very fortunate to have Craig Scharton moving into the role of facilitator for the Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem. Craig has great experience working with businesses and entrepreneurs and is the ideal person to continue TATT’s work building the collective capacity of support providers and entrepreneurs in the Upstate.”
Scharton, who moved to the Upstate in June 2022, has over 35 years of progressive experience leading diverse teams in non-profit and public service environments to execute meaningful and innovative projects to improve the standard of living in local communities.
“Craig’s well-rounded experience and welcoming personality make him a great fit for this role. The Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem will benefit from his knowledge and ability to bring people together around complex topics,” said Erin Ouzts.
In Fresno City, CA, he built ecosystems of support for entrepreneurs and support providers as Senior Director, Economic Development with One by One Leadership, president of the California Main Street Alliance, as a Fresno City Council member, owner of a restaurant, director of Central Valley Business Incubator for Water and Energy Technology, and multiple positions with the City of Fresno and Downtown Fresno Partnership.
While working with California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (CMTC) (similar to SC MEP), he strengthened CMTC’s relationship with 40+ partner organizations to realize an additional $100 million + in additional sales for small and medium-sized manufacturers.
He taught urban entrepreneurship at Fresno State University as an adjunct professor for 14 years and created the Fresno Downtown Academy which received the International Downtown Association Award in 2016. Craig has been a featured speaker at multiple events, including the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) National Conference, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the California Workforce Association, and the California Assembly of Local Arts Agencies.
Scharton has experience on multiple boards, including the Fresno Community Development Financial Institution, Jane Addams Community Development Corporation, and the President of the California Main Street Alliance.
“Erin Ouzts has built out an incredible framework for entrepreneurs and those who support them. I am honored to be able to build on her work,” said Scharton. I love building communities to support our independent businesses from home-based cottage businesses to downtown retailers to local manufacturers. Every sector has a role in growing our entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
‘What serendipity to find someone who will seamlessly take over for Erin Ouzts who is such a pro herself at bringing together people and organizations to continue to build a healthy Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem!’ said Justine Allen, Ten at the Top Program Manager.
Scharton will continue the Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem’s mission to increase the ecosystem’s ability and capacity to help entrepreneurs be more successful faster. The quarterly Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem, Innovation Leaders Coalition, and Rural Entrepreneurship Leaders Coalition groups will continue to meet. He will focus on continuing to create awareness of the multiple entrepreneur resources available through the StartGrowUpstate.com resource navigator and connecting disconnected entrepreneurs to the ecosystem.
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. For more information, visit www.tenatthetop.org.