The third installment of Accelerate Greenville, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce’s private sector-fueled economic development initiative that’s launched programs like NEXT and the Minority Business Accelerator, has gone live.
First created in 2010, Accelerate’s original objective was to facilitate the increase of the county’s personal per capita income, according to Carlos Phillips, president and CEO of the Greenville Chamber.
“We launched it with an emphasis on growing our high-impact entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Phillips said. “We’ve had a lot of good entrepreneurs go through that program and benefit from that.”
And after two five-year installments of Accelerate, Phillips said the county’s per capita income has increased at a similar rate as the national per capita income.
“What we have to do now is find a way to outpace the national average,” he said. “Our community, we can do better. That’s what Accelerate 3.0 is designed to do.”
Officially dubbed Accelerate: Growing a Greater Greenville, the initiative has identified four focus areas to take Greenville into the future by;
- Continuing to drive entrepreneurial ecosystem growth by supporting the NEXT and Minority Business Accelerator programs and continuing to partner with Greenville County Schools through Launch Greenville, a paid internship program for high school students.
- Continuing to work to address key barriers to finding gainful employment, including access to public transportation, affordable housing, accessible and affordable childcare and overcoming criminal records.
- Investing and leveraging data to make more informed decisions about the community.
- Increasing education attainment for working-age adults.
Phillips said increasing the county’s education attainment level is the foundation of Accelerate 3.0.
“We will launch a community-wide campaign to meet the Lumina Foundation’s education attainment goal that 60% of working-age residents will have either a high-quality credential, associate degree or higher,” Philips said.
The Lumina Foundation is a private, Indianapolis-based foundation committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all, according to its website.
Research has shown that personal per capita income is directly tied to education, Phillips said.
“Those communities with higher education attainment levels, their residents earn more money,” he said.
Currently, Phillips said only 46% of working-age adults in Greenville County have a college degree, certificate, industry certification or other credential of value. The county’s per capita income, meanwhile, is at 89% of the national average.
“If we were at the national average, our community would experience $3 billion more in income and wealth,” Phillips said.
And while it seems unlikely that Greenville County will be able to achieve that 60% goal in five years, “it’s still important that we do everything possible to pursue that,” Phillips said.
Visit greenvillechamber.org for more information.