Meet the panel of community leaders helping UBJ recognize its third class of game-changers
For the third year, UBJ is looking forward to the future of the Upstate and recognizing the people who will get us there.
This week UBJ introduces the panel of judges for our 2016 Who’s Who awards. If it’s true that it takes one to know one, then the diverse group of talented people who take their support of the Upstate far beyond their job descriptions is perfect for identifying others shaping this community’s future. They will be looking hard for unsung heroes, for solid accomplishments and for characteristics that hint of much more to come.
Finding this year’s class will demand a thorough selection process involving nominations from the public, exhaustive work from researchers, the wisdom and expertise of a panel of judges, and direct engagement through social media.
Nominations will be open to the public from Feb. 5 through March 6 for six categories: The Young Gun, The Closer, The Entrepreneur, The Legend and The Company. A seventh winner, The Wild Card, will be chosen through social media.
Researchers will vet names for each category and submit them to the judges for their deliberation. Research and interviews will help narrow the field for judges to score each candidate.
On Thursday, April 29, the winners will be honored at a private event in front of the Upstate’s business leaders, and with a special edition of UBJ.
Co-founder and CEO, Selah Genomics
Michael Bolick has been a both a product and shaper of today’s start-up ecosystem. He grew Selah as a case study of using a number of local resources working together. They clicked and it worked, and is now back working again. Through that process, he is an active participant in building on that framework to further support an attractive entrepreneurial environment.
What is the one key identifier that catches your attention that a company is growing and has a lot of room to grow?
In his report “The Job Generation Process,” David Birch identified small companies as the biggest creators of new jobs in the economy. Birch estimated that these growth-mode companies accounted for only 4 percent of all U.S. companies, but accounted for 70 percent of all new jobs. Gazelles are identified by their rapid growth pace, rather than their absolute size, but the key metric is when a company is increasing its revenues by at least 20 percent annually for four years or more, starting from a revenue base of at least $1 million.
Co-founder, Erwin Penland
Joe Erwin, who stepped down late last year as president of the ad agency he founded in 1986, has led thousands of local people and built an industry-leading company. After helping to shape Greenville’s marketing landscape, he is at it again with a new startup project that is sure to get everyone talking when it’s unveiled.
What is Greenville doing right to continue to make this business community competitive and get the right people here to build the great companies of tomorrow?
As young entrepreneurs who selected Greenville in 1986 (with one account and one employee), it was in great part due to the welcoming spirit we felt from the business community. It was a hallmark of the city then and today. This is a place that encourages entrepreneurship and creativity, where anyone who wants to work hard and contribute can make a difference. And it’s not just something we talk about; we live it. It’s one of my favorite things about this city.
An attorney at Wyche for more than 25 years and board member of United Way of Greenville County since 2013, Jo Hackl is one of the most respected local female leaders in the Upstate. She is active in conversations on diversity and female leadership. As a mentor and leader, she sits right up there with names like Minor Shaw and Barbara League.
Where would you like to see more women leading?
Female leadership is growing, particularly in the sciences, technology and entrepreneurial efforts in the Upstate and globally. From Silicon Valley to Greenville’s vibrant downtown, there are countless examples of women bringing a unique perspective that inspires innovation. Women bring a diverse set of talents, and I’d like to see women’s leadership grow across all sectors. As a part of engaging all of our community’s resources, I’d also like to see our concept of leadership evolve so that it is increasingly focused on how to empower an expansive range of talent to expand opportunities throughout our community.
President and CEO, Peace Center
If you haven’t noticed, tourism and the performing arts are a cornerstone of our economic development strategy, the backbone of the Upstate’s product offering. The Peace Center turns 25 this year, and Riegel has been there for more than 19 of those years. Running a $20 million operation, she has earned a place in the conversation with the Upstate’s business movers and shakers.
How important is culture to attracting talent, and what opportunities do we need to capitalize on to bring our culture clout to the next level?
People are attracted to cities offering diverse cultural opportunities and experiences. Theatres, museums, galleries, music and sporting venues, restaurants and retail, parks, plazas and hiking/biking trails are all part of the cultural landscape. Greenville’s “culture clout” is already remarkable compared to its size. Could there be more offerings? Sure, and in time there will be. But what we have now is pretty darn good, and if you talk to folks who have been transferred here for business, the majority of them never want to leave.
Director of Economic Development, City of Greenville
Everyone knows Nancy Whitworth. That’s because she is in almost every conversation about how to move the ball forward. When she shows up and speaks up, she helps find those who are truly contributing and helping the Upstate evolve.
If you were a 28-year-old professional in Greenville today, what initiatives or business conversations would you be the most excited about getting involved in?
The Greenville I saw as a 28-year-old is so different than it is now. I would be excited about the companies that are creating jobs, changing lives and providing healthy food alternatives; those that are focused on providing specialized training and financing – especially for those in our underserved communities; those that are developing innovative technologies and creating products that will improve the health of others; and those that are pioneering educational innovation that ensures Greenville will be prepared for the future.