CEOs for Cities coming to Greenville, featuring Atlantic writer James Fallows

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More than 250 civic leaders from around the country are expected to visit Greenville in May for a personal inspection of some of its achievements and to share ideas about urban renewal.

A well-known journalist and author who has written about Greenville with admiration — James Fallows of The Atlantic — is also scheduled to take part, according to Greenville Mayor Knox White.

White said Greenville is the smallest city to host a meeting of CEOs for Cities, a nonprofit organization based in Cleveland that promotes ways of improving cities.

The group’s Spring Cluster Workshop is scheduled to take place in Greenville on May 14-17, according to its website. Details have not been announced.

White, who has attended numerous CEOs for Cities meetings around the country, and has been a guest speaker or panelist at some, said the attendees are typically “high-caliber folks, mayors and council members, civic leaders across the board in different communities.” The mayor said he expects the Greenville event to highlight globalization and foreign corporate investment in the area.

 “We are looking forward to telling the Greenville story again, as well as learning from others,” he said.

 White said the workshop will begin just as Artisphere, the annual downtown arts festival, is coming to a close “so people can come early, as they often do.”

James Fallows
James Fallows

Fallows, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, and his wife, Deborah Fallows, have written several articles about different aspects of Greenville, such as the emphasis on engineering at A.J. Whittenberg Elementary School, as part of a series entitled “City Makers: American Futures.”

The series led to a 10-minute segment about Greenville on “PBS Newshour” in March that was narrated by anchor Judy Woodruff.

CEOs for Cities, among other activities, maintains a national network of volunteer teams in 27 urban areas around the country, including Greenville/Greer.

The teams, called “clusters,” are composed of civic-minded leaders from the public, private and nonprofit sectors “who love their cities and don’t wait for others to lead,” according to the CEOs for Cities website.

Members of the Greenville/Greer cluster include Greenville real estate executive Brad Halter.

“If I got down to one sentence to what this is about, it’s [that] the federal government is not going to take care of your city,” Halter said. “The state of South Carolina is not going to take care of your city. If the cities are going to continue to thrive, they’re going to have to benchmark against other cities … to get it right.”

A CEOs for Cities cluster workshop in Des Moines, Iowa, in June included appearances by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Michael Gartner, a former president of NBC News, according to the organization’s website.

Clusters from Cleveland, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Waco, Texas and Greensboro/High Point, N.C. made presentations.

There was also a talk by Ryan Gravel, who came up with the idea for the Atlanta BeltLine, a developing network of parks, trails and streetcar routes around downtown Atlanta.

Attendees visited a test garden outside the headquarters of Better Homes and Gardens magazine that doubles as an outside studio for photographers.

Topics ranged from the value of adding bicycle lanes and artist studios to helping at-risk youth and improving a city’s “talent pipeline.”

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