Elevate Upstate grant winners announced

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Main Street Laurens USA and the Greenwood Arts Center have been named the winners of the 2017 Hughes Investments Elevate Upstate Community Vibrancy Grants.

The grant program, which was launched by Ten at the Top in 2013, provides “seed funds” to support vibrancy initiatives in communities across the Upstate. Greenville’s Hughes Investments contributes at least $10,000 a year to the program with two recipients receiving $5,000 each.

“The goal of the Elevate Upstate program is to get communities thinking about what types of initiatives or programs might help spark vibrancy within their area and then provide some seed money to get some of them started,” said Hughes Investments President Phil Hughes, in a statement. “In the three years we have done this program, I have been amazed by the great ideas and passion of communities across the region to grow their vibrancy and sense of place. It was a real challenge to narrow the field to five finalists and to select the recipients.”

In the five years of the Elevate Upstate Grants program, Phil Hughes and Hughes Investments has provided a total of $73,000 to help with 22 different vibrancy initiatives across the Upstate region.

The five finalists for 2017 were selected from 22 applications. Each finalists gave a brief presentation at Ten at the Top’s Celebrating Successes Brunch on Nov. 16 at the Greenville Marriott.

Main Street Laurens USA plans to use its Elevate Upstate grant to launch a Food Truck Plaza, which will dedicate space within the city of Laurens where food trucks will be located for residents and visitors. It will include colored shade sails, brick pavers, picnic benches, and more.

The Greenwood Arts Center plans to use its grant to provide educational and interactive art programs designed around the Bee City USA designation, which aims to celebrate and raise awareness of the contribution bees and other pollinators.

In addition to providing $10,000 to the two winners, Hughes has also pledged a $2,000 matching grant to each of the three other finalists. If they raise $2,000 towards completing their project, he will provide a matching $2,000 contribution.

The other three Hughes Investments Elevate Upstate Grant Finalists:

Art of the Horse in Landrum: In celebration of the 2018 World Equestrian Games being held in nearby Tryon, N.C., the city will be displaying a life-size painted fiberglass horse. The city is looking to use the Elevate Upstate Grant to allow for the piece of public art to become a permanent component of the city of Landrum.

Farm to Fork Dinner, Abbeville County Farmers Market: The Abbeville County Farmers Market is looking to host a farm-to-fork dinner to highlight the vital role of local farming and farmers markets in creating local vibrancy in Abbeville.

Art Wall at Monarch Park, city of Seneca and Blue Ridge Arts Council: As part of an Eagle Scout project for a local student, an art wall has been created in Monarch Park, located within walking distance of Main Street Seneca. The Elevate Upstate Grant would be used to commission three-dimensional butterfly art for the wall and park.

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