The importance of identifying and understanding our Upstate resources
By Dean Hybl, executive director, Ten at the Top
One thing I have clearly seen during my eight years living in the Upstate is that leaders and residents have a can-do attitude and a willingness to create programs to address the area’s challenges. However, while the Upstate has lots of initiatives and resources, in many cases they exist in a vacuum and are not necessarily well known by those who might benefit or others who could be involved and supportive.
I initially recognized this challenge in 2011 during our first meeting of Ten at the Top’s Economic and Entrepreneurial Vitality Task Force. One committee member opened the discussion by saying that the region didn’t have any resources for someone looking to start or grow a small business. For several minutes, others reinforced that statement before another attendee started rattling off local resources, including the Small Business Development Centers, Piedmont SCORE, local chambers, entrepreneurial incubators, and several others.
What we quickly realized is that the Upstate isn’t short on resources, but we are not always good at promoting them and making them easily accessible. This can lead to duplication of services, as the can-do nature of the region often results in groups addressing an issue without realizing that others are already working on it.
While most organizations and resources in the region can be found through a Google search, if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for, that platform isn’t necessarily easy to manage. A search for a service need in the Upstate can return thousands of options, many of which are not actually in the Upstate or are unrelated to your need.
That is why in 2012 Ten at the Top used a grant from the Graham Foundation to develop the Upstate Information Hub (ourupstatesc.info) as a regional repository of resources and events. The site initially included direct links to more than 1,200 resources and has a comprehensive calendar that regularly lists more than 600 events and activities happening across the region.
As Ten at the Top has continued our mission of building collaborative partnerships around issues that impact economic vitality and quality of life, knowing who is working on various issues across the 10-county Upstate region has become even more important.
Over the past three years, we have added many more regional inventories to the Upstate Information Hub, developing comprehensive lists around a wide variety of topics, including nontraditional funding sources and support organizations for entrepreneurs and small businesses, child well-being organizations, and those supporting senior needs. We also have developed a comprehensive inventory of outdoor recreation (hiking, biking, etc.) locations in the region.
Using Google Maps, anyone looking for the inventories for child well-being, senior services, or outdoor recreation can now access them through specially developed maps that provide locations, directions, hours, websites, and other valuable information.
The latest inventory in the works is a comprehensive list of organizations, venues, and programs involving arts and culture in the Upstate. So far, we have identified more than 1,200 arts and culture efforts, which play a valuable role both in enhancing quality of life and in growing the economy.
We will be unveiling the Upstate Arts & Culture Interactive Map during an Upstate Regional Forum titled “Culture Counts” on Jan. 24 at the Chapman Cultural Center in Spartanburg. The forum will also include discussions about the many valuable roles arts and culture initiatives play in our communities. If you are interested in attending, you can register on the Ten at the Top website (tenatthetop.org).
Over the next several months, TATT will be developing more regional inventories and asset maps both to connect Upstate residents with resources, and to help with discussions on how the Upstate can continue addressing key problems in the community. As we gain a stronger understanding of what resources already exist, we’ll be able to maximize those resources and collectively fill in any gaps.
If you are interested in helping TATT grow the Upstate inventory of available services and resources, please reach out to us through our website, tenatthetop.org.