By Dean Hybl, executive director, Ten at the Top
Many great treasures play a role in making the Upstate an amazing place to live and visit.
Some, like the Liberty Bridge and downtown Greenville, Abbeville Opera House, Table Rock, Clemson University, Greenwood Genetic Center, and BMW, are very well-known to residents and visitors alike.
Other businesses, communities, and programs don’t necessarily receive the same level of publicity or national recognition but are among the Upstate’s hidden gems.
Recognizing that every part of the Upstate has its own gems, in 2015 Ten at the Top began the Getting to Know Your Neighbors Upstate Bus Tours to showcase elements that make each of the 10 counties in the Upstate special.
Over the past four years, participants have been treated to hands-on tours of a wide range of regional assets.
Whether it be education, research and workforce-training facilities, high-tech manufacturing facilities, cutting-edge social service provider initiatives, breathtaking waterfalls, trails and historic parks, or beautiful downtowns with a great sense of place, the region has many gems that are part of the story of what makes the Upstate a leading place to live, learn, do business, and raise a family.
Our most recent tour took participants to parts of Spartanburg County that are not necessarily on the beaten path.
Anyone who follows the Upstate economy has likely heard of the Inland Port in Greer. Since opening in October 2013, the Inland Port has become a valuable asset that has been a deciding factor in many businesses locating or expanding in the Upstate.
It is one thing to see pictures of the Inland Port or view it from the road, but a totally different experience when inside the terminal and viewing the unloading of containers from right next to the cranes. The Inland Port has about 40 employees, and the crane operators are incredibly talented as they quickly move containers around to ensure the greatest efficiency possible for truckers moving through the facility.
Spartanburg County has many great employers and companies. One that you may never have heard about, but have likely seen its work, is The Heirloom Cos. based in Campobello. Tucked within that beautiful area of the Upstate, this company has been producing custom-designed wood and iron pieces for nearly a quarter of a century.
Mixing old-world craftsmanship with modern technology, Heirloom creates one-of-a-kind pieces that can be found in places like Walt Disney World’s new World of Avatar as well as locally at the AC Hotel in Spartanburg and the Cancer Survivors Park in Greenville.
Watching its 30-plus employees design and create unique pieces right before your eyes using both new-age CNC machines and traditional craftsman methods is awe-inspiring.
Much has been written about the downtown transformations in Greenville and Spartanburg, but Landrum has also created a unique downtown vibrancy that makes it an attractive destination.
The downtown is filled with specialty shops as well as a growing number of restaurants and soon will have a community museum. With the FEI World Equestrian Games coming right down the road to Tryon, N.C., in September, Landrum is gearing up for what should be a very busy summer and fall.
Just a few miles down the road, Inman is working to grow its own uniqueness and vibrancy. A streetscape project is underway to enhance the walkability of its downtown corridor. In addition, the old Inman Mills location is being redeveloped as a mixed-use residential community that will give Inman much-needed housing options for people looking to live close to jobs in Spartanburg County while also being able to enjoy the charm a smaller community.
Of course, any tour of Spartanburg County would be incomplete without checking in on all the great things happening in Spartanburg. Because our 2016 tour of the county focused on its largest city, we spent only a portion of the day in downtown Spartanburg, but still got a taste of all the amazing things transforming the city.
From the 10th floor of the new AC Hotel, you can see all the construction happening across the city. With more than 40 new businesses and restaurants opened in the last year, Spartanburg is continuing to grow its stature as a bustling and leading part of the Upstate.
A vibrant region includes many individual gems that combine to sparkle at a greater magnitude together. The Upstate is truly blessed to have such a wide array of unique assets.
Whether it be through our tours or your own exploration, I encourage you to discover some of the special gems in the Upstate.
Check out www.tenatthetop.org to learn about future tours and the many gems in the Upstate.