10th Anniversary County Workshops

    Ten Years of Connecting the Upstate

    Ten years ago, when Ten at the Top started, we held a series of workshops in each county to ask business and community leaders as well as interested residents what matters most looking to the Upstate’s future—and the input we got has guided our work over the last decade.

    With 2019 being TATT’s 10th anniversary year, we’re returning to each county, but this time the content of the workshops relates directly to an issue that the counties are addressing or would like to explore. And because we’ve been connecting the Upstate for 10 years, we’ll bring people from other communities where that issue has been successfully addressed.

    Workshop series presenting sponsor:

    Laurens County: Cultivating Community Investment—June 13th

    The Laurens County Workshop took place on June 13th, with a focus on Cultivating Community Investment. Allen Smith, the President and CEO of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, shared how Spartanburg has created a community culture that is investing in a wide range of initiatives that are helping to grow the physical infrastructure and the social capital within the Spartanburg community. Also participating in the program were Greenwood County Council Member Theo Lane, Greenville area Community Volunteer Lisa Stevens and Greenwood Area Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Angelle LaBorde.

    In addition, leaders from within Laurens County shared some potential ideas and opportunities for cultivating community investment within Laurens County.

    Community feedback was solicited from participants about their vision for Laurens County, using the following questions (click on the question to view responses):

    1. What is something you love about Laurens County?
    2. What is something you wish was different?
    3. What do you want Laurens County to be?
    4. What are barriers to making that happen?
    5. If you could invest resources in one thing for Laurens County, what would it be?

    Union County: Cultivating Community Through Entrepreneurship & Messaging—July 23rd

    The Union County Workshop took place on July 23rd in USC Union’s Truluck Gym, with the focus being on Cultivating Community Through Entrepreneurship and Messaging. 

    Janet Hartman, the Executive Director of the Oconee Economic Alliance,  shared how Oconee County has developed an inclusive economic development and community messaging program through Destination Oconee and the “Think Oconee” campaign.

    Erin Ouzts, Chair of the Upstate Entrepreneur Support Providers Network and LeKesa Whitner, with Community Works and the Northside Development Group’s StartMe program, and Patty Bock from the City of Spartanburg provided an overview of how to build opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners within a community.

    Community feedback was solicited from participants about their vision for Union County, using the following questions (click on the question to view responses):

    1. What is something you love about Union County?
    2. What is something you would change?
    3. What do you want Union County to be?
    4. What message do you want Union County to send?
    5. What resources do you think should be available for entrepreneurs/small business owners?

    Abbeville County: Growing Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses—September 9th

    The Abbeville County Workshop took place on September 9th with the focus being on Growing Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses.

    ​Speakers included Erin Ouzts, Chair of Ten at the Top’s Upstate Entrepreneur Support Providers Network; Dave Eldridge, CEO of Tri-County Entrepreneurial Development Corporation; and Brian “Zig” Ziegelheafer, Co-Founder and Leader of BGEN, Gaffney’s small business incubator. They provided an overview of how to build opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners within a community.

    Local businesswoman Paige Bowser, owner of Breezy Quarters—which sells handcrafted soaps, lotions, candles, and more—shared her story of going from a home business with a table at the farmers market to a successful brick and mortar entrepreneur with her own business incubator, with the help of local small business resources. Mike Clary, Community Development Director for the city of Abbeville, then talked about what some of those resources are and how to access them, along with an announcement of his own about a new small business incubator space in the city of Abbeville.

    An interactive exercise asked current and potential business owners, small business service providers, and other interested individuals to answer the following questions (click for responses):


    1. What gaps do you see/what additional resources do you wish were available for small business owners in Abbeville County?
    2. What is the most effective means of communicating what services are available?
    3. What keeps people from using existing services?

    Greenwood County: Cultivating Transportation Solutions: Models for Mobility—September 16th

    The Greenwood County Workshop took place on September 16th with the focus being on Cultivating Transportation Solutions: Models for Mobility. 

    Three speakers from public, private, and nonprofit sectors, spoke about programs, partnerships, and innovative solutions for meeting transportation needs. Keith Scott, Transit Director for Electric City Transit, talked about how public transit can expand coverage to include other communities without those communities committing financial resources to their own transit system; Paige Stephenson, President and CEO of United Way of the Piedmont, shared the success of and lessons learned from a pilot program in Spartanburg County for transporting workers to jobs; and Neil Semcheski, Rideshare Senior Sales Executive for Enterprise Holdings, outlined the benefits of Enterprise’s rideshare program, which can be subisidized by employers. 

    An interactive element had participants prioritizing transportation needs by location and time of day, with users color coding their responses by the sector they represent.

    Click through for a summary of responses:

    Greenwood Transportation Timeline

    Greenwood Transportation Map

    Pickens County: Next Steps for County Connectivity: Messaging, Marketing, and Mobility—September 30th

    The Pickens County Workshop took place on September 30th from noon–2:00 p.m. at Tri-County Technical College–Easley Campus, with the focus being on Next Steps for County Connectivity: Marketing, Messaging, and Mobility.

    The workshop touched on various meanings of connectivity, from a unified county identity and message to aspects of transportation and mobility. On both a literal and a metaphorical level, the goal of the workshop was to find ways to connect the entirety of Pickens County.

    State Representative Neal Collins and Pickens County Council Chair Roy Costner set the context, talking about their Pickens United initiative and the need for various county and city entities to work together. Janet Hartman, Executive Director of the Oconee Economic Alliance, shared her experience with crafting a unified and cohesive county message; and Keith Moody, general manager of Clemson Area Transit/CATBUS, and Keith Brockington, Transportation Planning Manager with GPATS, addressed connectivity from a transportation/mobility focus.

    An interactive element asked participants to complete a modified SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis on four different elements:


    Tourism and recreation





    Oconee County: Make the Connection: Oconee County Trails and Greenways—October 17th

    ​The Oconee County Workshop took place on October 17th from 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. at Blue Ridge Electric in Westminster, with the topic being Make the Connection: Oconee County Trails and Greenways.

    Speakers Ty Houck, Director of Greenways, Natural and Historic Resources for the Greenville County Recreation District, and Brandy Amidon, Mayor of Travelers Rest, both talked about the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Houck talked about the nuts and bolts of getting a trail system built, and Amidon talked about the impact the trail has had on the town of Travelers Rest.

    There were several interactive elements in Oconee: a map where participants could mark specific trail/greenway routes with yarn; a signpost (à la M*A*S*H) where they suggested trail names; suggestion sheets for trail amenities; and a prioritization grid for funding the trails and greenways.

    Trail names

    Trail amenities

    Funding the trails

    Blueways and greenways

    Spartanburg County: Beyond Recruiting Talent: Elevating Professionalism—October 29th

    The Spartanburg County Workshop took place on October 29th from 10:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m. at Milliken & Company Customer Center , with the topic being Beyond Recruiting Talent: Elevating Professionalism.​

    The workshop opened with Steve Hall and Dennis Hughes of Find Great People setting the context with national and regional data and trends. Following that was a panel discussion, moderated by Troy Hanna, CEO of the Spartanburg County Foundation, which touched on some personal/anecdotal realities experienced by Spartanburg professionals in various fields.

    Panelists included Stinson Ferguson, staff attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center and Director of Organizational Development at J. W. Woodward Funeral Home; Victor Durrah, Director of Professional Development at Spartanburg Methodist College and Executive Director of Brothers Restoring Urban Hope; and Hannah Jarrett, Community Impact Associate at United Way of the Piedmont.

    Milliken’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Craig Haydamack, then spoke about career pathways both generally and within Milliken.

    The interactive portion was introduced by Allen Smith, CEO and President of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce. Participants came up with action items with their table-mates, and then each table chose one item to submit to the larger group. Those were then voted on by the whole group, with first, second, and third choice votes cast.

    All action items

    Top choices ranked


    Cherokee County: Ingredients for Success: Moving to the Next Level—November 14th

    The Cherokee County Workshop took place on November 14th from 5:00–7:00 p.m. at the Institute of Innovation Cherokee County (175 Campus Drive, Gaffney, SC), with the focus being on Ingredients for Community Success: Moving to the Next Level. 

    Ken Moon, Deputy Director at Cherokee County Development Board, set the context, highlighting successes in the county and countering negative perceptions that persist. He then led a panel with individuals from other communities about best practices and hard-earned experience in dealing with some of the same issues present in Cherokee County. Panelists include SC State Representative Neal Collins; Eric Vinson, City Administrator of Travelers Rest; and Stephen Taylor, Economic Development Director for Abbeville County.

    Neal Collins talked about building Pickens United in order to get various elected officials to communicate and cooperate, and about how to use that to build a collective voice and grow community initiatives.

    Eric Vinson spoke about how the city of Travelers Rest has capitalized on the economic boon that the Swamp Rabbit Trail was for the community as well as challenges that have come with it, including infrastructure, growth, and affordable housing.

    Stephen Taylor talked about addressing infrastructure challenges as well, and also about supporting the growth of small businesses, addressing the perception of a rural school system not offering a quality education, and the benefits of the rural broadband access program in Abbeville.

    An interactive element had participants doing a modified SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of three elements of concern for Cherokee County: education, collective voice, and community pride. Click through for analysis of the responses.


    Collective voice

    Community pride


    Anderson County: Education and Employment: Next Steps for Success—November 18th

    The Anderson County Workshop took place on November 18th from 9:00–11:00 a.m. at Western Upstate Association of Realtors, with the topic being Education and Employment: Next Steps for Success.

    Anderson County recently completed a community indicators study, and those indicators helped to inform and shape the content of this workshop. Michael Cunningham, Vice President for Advancement at AnMed Health, gave an overview of the indicators report, highlighting education, employment, and economic strength and growth, but also looking at areas where work needs to be done so that all residents of Anderson County can enjoy the successes. His overview was followed by a panel, moderated by Carol Burdette, president and CEO of United Way of Anderson County, with experts in five crucial areas that represent challenges for individuals trying to take advantage of educational and employment opportunities:

    • Jeff Parkey, Anderson County Planning Director, talked about affordable housing
    • Rich Jones, CEO/COO of FAVOR (Faces and Voices of Recovery) Greenville, addressed addiction and substance abuse issues
    • Jenni Creamer, Assistant Vice President and Dean of College Transitions at Tri-County Technical College, talked about educational pathways for adults
    • Kevin Hoyle, Executive Director of AOP Mental Health Center, addressed mental health issues
    • Keith Scott, Transit Director for Electric City Transit, talked about transportation challenges

    An interactive element had participants coming up with action items for the county to pursue in the areas addressed by the panel, combining mental health and addiction/substance abuse into one category. Click through for the action items proposed by workshop participants.


    Mental Health/Addiction

    Affordable Housing

    Educational Pathways for Adults


    Thank you to our sponsors, who make these county workshops possible!


    Workshop Series Leading Sponsors: 

    Hometown Heroes Series Sponsor:

    Workshop Series Benefactor Level Supporters:


    AnMed Health

    Bon Secours St. Francis Health System

    Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative

    Duke Energy

    Laurens Electric Cooperative

    Maddrey & Associates

    Oconee County

    Sherman College of Chiropractic Medicine


    Workshop Series Advocate Level Supporters:



    Anderson Area Joint Water Districe

    A.T. Locke

    Barnet Development

    Better Business Bureau of Upstate SC


    Broad River Electric

    Craig Brown

    City of Anderson

    City of Easley

    City of Greer

    Edward Via School of Osteopathic Medicine

    Greenville Technical College

    GSP International Airport

    Irv Welling

    Little River Electric Cooperative

    Lockheed Martin

    Ogletree Deakins

    Sealevel Systems

    Spectrum Reach

    TD Bank

    Upstate Home Care Solutions

    Upstate SC Alliance

    Irv Welling