It seems like only a short time has passed since we were wrapping up 2017 and making plans for approaching 2018, yet in seemingly a blink of an eye six months have passed and I am now reflecting on what has transpired so far in 2018 and what is yet to accomplish over the next six months and beyond.
Ten at the Top began 2018 with a determined effort to maximize our limited staff resources to focus on collaborative capacity building regional initiatives that support our mission of enhancing economic vitality and quality of life in the Upstate.
As part of that strategy, we moved fundraising and marketing from a full-time staff position to an agency contract and made the focus of both of our full-time staff members other than myself to be around program and initiative management.
If the first six months are any indication, those moves were the correct decisions.
Unlike many similar organizations, TATT receives very little government funding and are not a membership driven organization. This approach has been critical to TATT’s success as we annually have more than 400 organizations and businesses from across the region with representatives on our committees and engaged in our capacity building efforts without the barrier of having to make a financial commitment.
Therefore, our financial support is much more dependent on individual businesses and organizations who believe in our mission and regional value and that are committed to be engaged not only in our regional efforts, but also in financially supporting TATT. Through the efforts of our Fundraising Committee, staff and fundraising consultant, we have raised more funds (nearly $340,000) during the first half of 2018 than in any similar period since the organization started in 2009. However, with an expanded budget for 2018 of $500,000, we are still working to engage more partners and support over the coming weeks. In addition, Our Fundraising Committee is taking a very active role in working to build long-term sustainable funding that keeps TATT able to focus primarily on our mission.
In terms of meetings, presentations, events and other regional capacity building initiatives, the first half of 2018 has also been among our busiest with 58 regional engagements and 2,099 total participants.
Below are the specific regional initiatives that are either currently active or TATT started working with regional stakeholders to develop over the last several months:
- • Connecting Our Future Regional Mobility & Connectivity Initiative – Driver Area: Sustainable Growth
- • Shaping Our Future Continuing Education Workshops – Driver Area: Sustainable Growth
- • Entrepreneur Support Providers Network – Driver Area: Economic & Entrepreneurial Vitality
- • Non-Traditional Lenders Network – Driver Area: Economic & Entrepreneurial Vitality
- • K-12 Employability Development Initiative – Driver Area: Human Potential
- • Upstate Education Spectrum Initiative – Driver Area: Human Potential
- • Regional Talent Recruitment web portal and messaging campaign (in partnership with the Upstate Alliance and Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson Chambers of Commerce) – Driver Area: Human Potential
- • Upstate Air Quality & Clean Energy Workshop Development – Driver Area: Natural Beauty & Resources
- • #UpstateVibe365 Arts & Culture Asset Map Next Steps – Driver Area: Community Vibrancy
- • Elevate Upstate Grants 2018 Workshop & Grant Process – Driver Area: Community Vibrancy
During the first half of 2018, Ten at the Top hosted the first-ever meeting of Upstate K-12 Public School Superintendents and College/University Presidents and Provosts. This initial meeting has led to the identification of some specific opportunities for greater collaboration among educators as well as the business community and a second meeting is now scheduled for September.
In addition, there have been several meetings of the Advisory and Technical Committees as they work to develop a regional vision and actionable strategies for the Connecting our Future Mobility & Connectivity initiative. The results of this work will be rolled out during a regional event on August 7th.
In March, TATT held the third annual PIQUE: Young Leaders Summit that connected 275 young professionals and business/community leaders from across the region.
As we move into the second half of 2018, Ten at the Top will be hosting several additional large regional events. On August 17th TATT and the Upstate Air Quality Advisory Committee will be holding a regional workshop called A Cleaner Future: A Look at Air Quality, Sustainability & Energy Innovation in the Upstate.
Since 2014, TATT has hosted a semi-annual regional summit focused around key issues facing the Upstate. The 2018 Summit: Winning the Future, will be held on September 25th and we are again expecting more than 800 stakeholders from across the region to participate in the half-day event. The keynote speaker is a nationally recognized author and business consultant Polly LaBarre. We also have several great breakout sessions focused around the question of what the region needs to do to be positioned for “Winning the Future” in relation to a number of key issue areas.
As we have done annually since 2012, TATT will conclude the year with our Celebrating Successes – Great Things Happening Across the Upstate event. This brunch will include the recognition of companies and organizations celebrating milestone anniversaries in 2018 as well as the awarding of the 2018 Hughes Investments Elevating Upstate Community Vibrancy Grants.
By multiple measurements, the first half of 2018 has been quite successful for Ten at the Top and our mission of fostering collaboration and partnerships across the Upstate. Yet, we know that working collaboratively and strategically on key regional issues is a marathon, not a sprint.
While we acknowledge and appreciate the many partners and great work that has occurred so far this year, we must consider this work as building blocks for ongoing efforts to grow the Upstate’s collective capacity.
I personally want to thank everyone who has been involved with TATT so far this year, whether as a funding partner, board or committee member or participant in some of our regional initiatives. You are critical not just to the success of Ten at the Top, but also of the Upstate region.
I look forward to working with you moving forward on collaborative efforts to ensure that the Upstate continues to be recognized as a leading place to live, learn, do business and raise a family.
We truly are stronger together.