Regardless of the sector or location, 2020 has been a trying time for all Upstate entities. As we move into a new year, an uncertain future remains. To help us to better understand some of the ongoing challenges from the pandemic and resulting economic crisis, we have compiled a group of local, regional and state business, government and non-profit leaders who will periodically share their insights on a variety of topics and community issues. By sharing their struggles, successes and continued efforts they will help all Upstate entities better understand and navigate this uncertain future.

    Can you share an example of collaboration you have been involved in since March that has helped support efforts related to the pandemic?

    I have said this repeatedly, but the collaboration with Laurens County Emergency Management has been phenomenal.  Good communications of what is going on.  Additionally, the Recovery Task Force, facilitated by the Laurens County Chamber has been priceless to bring diverse sectors to the table and discuss what is going on.  We have truly been able to learn from one another which has led to sharing of resources in these uncertain times of need.  Mostly, the state-wide collaboration of Prisma Health Emergency Management team was great with health system and state agency coordination.  – Justin Benfield

    The Clemson Area Chamber and the Community Foundation of Clemson worked together to quickly source and purchase masks that were donated to the Clemson Police Department when the city of Clemson instituted a mask ordinance.  This not only provided protection for their officers, but also provided masks to be used to give out as an “education tool” to the public, rather than immediately issuing a citation. – Susan Cohen

    Yes, I connected with UofSC College of Pharmacy in April 2020 and received funding from Pickens County to deliver weekly saliva testing to the county. Our first collection was April 27, 2020. Four other volunteers helped collect and Clemson University joined in the effort. Ultimately, Pickens Co provided samples to UofSC to test the science and implement protocols, which allowed EUA approval of saliva testing and ultimately saliva testing at UofSC and Clemson for their students. – Neal Collins

    Our initial response to the pandemic involved a cooperative effort between GADC, Greenville County and City along with the Greenville Chamber in the development of protocols (e.g. Greater Greenville Pledge) and action items that included being an information resource for industries and businesses who struggled for consistent and reliable information about how to fight the virus.  – Mark Farris

    David Feild

    Our Industrial focused real estate brokers (warehouses, distribution, manufacturing) have been extremely busy over the past 9 months helping companies expand their location or add locations to help address supply chain challenges related to increased demand.  We have done deals for amazon fulfillment centers, last mile needs for other e-commerce groups, expansion of warehouse and distribution space for tool manufacturers supplying Home Depot, Lowes and Walmart (each), and even a project for a paper company to warehouse their new ramp up of toilet paper production.  All of this in the Upstate!! – David Feild

    Our company partnered with the Charleston Medical Society to assist with purchasing and passing out personal protective equipment that providers throughout the state had purchased. This was an effort to assist with providers who may not have the means to purchase this much needed equipment in order to continue to support the patients that they have. Through the Charleston Medical Society locating a provider to purchase this equipment through and purchase in a large quantity overall, smaller providers were then able to purchase quantities that they could use. Had this not occurred when it did, these providers may not have been able to have access to this much needed equipment. We then coordinated sorting, packing and distributing this equipment through pick up locations throughout the state. – Angie Gossett

    I was a participant in South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster’s AccelerateSC initiative. It was a truly collaborative effort across all sectors of our state’s economy, state agencies, academia, and other stakeholders. The group came together to make recommendations for our legislature to consider for CARES Act funding, provide guidance for business re-openings, discuss school re-openings, and other critical issues facing our state.  – Sara Hazzard

    The SC Arts Alliance has always worked alongside our nonprofit counterpart, TogetherSC. But during COVID-19, our partnership became more tangible than ever. Both of our groups worked hard to have the SC Legislature include a nonprofit COVID relief grant program, to the tune of $25 million, in the state’s CARES Act allocation this fall. As of writing, grants had not yet been awarded, but nearly 1,600 applications were submitted to the state. – G.P. McLeer

    The Laurens County Chamber of Commerce coordinates Zoom calls with representation across Laurens County to discuss pain points, needs, ideas, and to share resources.  – Amanda Munyan

    I have appreciated the opportunity to serve as part of the Bringing Back the Burg Task Force (, a recovery effort activated by OneSpartanburg, Inc.  Over three dozen task force members across all sectors have identified needs within the community, many of which have been addressed quickly. – Katherine O’Neill

    Worked with the educational community to address the need to see that teachers and students return to school safely. – Chuck Saylors

    Liz Seman, Chief of Staff, Furman University; Greenville County Council member

    The most impactful collaboration I’ve been involved in is the allocation of the $91M CARES Act funding received by Greenville County.  I’m so thankful for the way the county staff, members of county council, the nonprofit community and business community came together to ensure that the money was invested in ways that directly impacted those being hit the hardest by the pandemic.  There were some really innovative partnerships and programs developed that I hope will continue as our community recovers – physically, emotionally and economically. – Liz Seman

    I am so proud of and grateful for the collaboration between the Greenville Partnership for Philanthropy (GPP) and the NonProfit Alliance that has strengthened this year. Because grants to nonprofits are the primary ways that philanthropy funders – who are the members of GPP – fulfill their missions, there has always been a relationship between GPP and the NonProfit Alliance.  But this year, we held regular meetings with both of our memberships and we collaborated to launch the 21 day equity challenge, to host a forum with County Council candidates, and to strategize on the many COVID-related activities in our community. – Katy Smith

    Our United for All Fund and COVID response. Raised over $500K, assisted almost 800 households, partnered with emergency assistance agencies to provide funding and other needs, coordinated 40+ community calls in 6 weeks for a coordinated response. – Paige Stephenson

    What has been an unforeseen challenge you have needed to overcome during the pandemic? How did you do it?

    We needed a crash course in digital meeting software.  There are no less than four platforms we have had to learn and familiarize ourselves with in order to participate in the virtual meetings required to continue our efforts to attract new jobs and investment to Greenville. – Mark Farris

    Balancing the very different needs and mindsets of different people within our own organization.  From younger to older, those with underlying health conditions, or people with at-risk family members, everyone has varying thoughts on to function during this time.  Our response has been to create written policies and procedures for in-office work that has been made applicable to all.  In addition to a thorough set of rules and regulations we have made changes as new information has been made available and walked the teams through the changes and the subsequent new expectations.   People value straightforward clear expectations, particularly if they feel they have a voice in the creation.  – David Feild

    Communication through technology, virtually.  I dove in head first and did the best I could through trial and error, like everyone else.  This has been a valuable learning experience and changed the way we do many things day to day, some for the better.  – Amanda Munyan

    Instilling confidence that returning to school is safe. It is still ongoing. – Chuck Saylors

    Tim Todd

    Tim Todd, Executive Director of Discover Upcountry Carolina Association

    It’s been very challenging for our organization to find the right balance in our efforts to market our region as a tourism destination. Our partner businesses and organizations need visitors in order to survive, but conducting advertising & marketing campaigns can be viewed as inappropriate and reckless by some. We have attempted to promote our destination and the attractions and activities where social distancing can be done and have targeted visitors within a 300-mile radius. – Tim Todd

    You can read the first set of questions here.

    You can view the list of participants here.