Ten at the Top’s Upstate Regional Summit asks ‘What do we want?’ and ‘How can we get there?’

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Creating a leading region

 

In 2014, Ten at the Top’s Upstate Regional Summit called for leaders to think about “what’s next” for the Upstate. It emphasized an Upstate where collaboration and cooperation were hallmarks, and as evidenced two years later, the 2016 Upstate Regional Summit underscored that vision.

Nearly 900 business, community and civic leaders convened at the TD Center for the twice-yearly summit to refocus the collaborative efforts of the 10 South Carolina counties known as the Upstate for the purpose of creating a leading region. During the previous two years, Ten at the Top, the Summit’s host and a regional connecting organization, saw a 40 percent increase in task force participation. These task forces – centered around community vibrancy, natural beauty and resources, economic and entrepreneurial vitality, sustainable growth and human potential – analyze key issues facing the region. With the goal of sharing ideas and discussing opportunities, these tasks forces are integral to building collaborative partnerships and ensuring that the Upstate is effectively utilizing and leveraging our resources.

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Building the region’s collective capacity

 

Featuring an agenda to spark conversation and connections, the summit began with a leadership panel that included leaders of four organizations that have a major impact on the success of the Upstate region. Mike Baur, CEO of ScanSource; James P. Clements, president of Clemson University; Pamela Lackey, South Carolina president of AT&T; and Michael Riordan, president and CEO of Greenville Health System, outlined the role their entities play in the region and also discussed the importance of working collaboratively across the Upstate to enhance our global competitiveness and quality of life.

Following the morning session, six breakout sessions provided a glimpse into the work of 18 organizations or businesses that are working to make the Upstate a leading region.

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What do you want most?

 

The summit culminated with a keynote presentation featuring Fortune magazine’s senior editor-at-large Geoff Colvin. He started by asking, “What do you want most?” In a business context, he said the answer is usually “a sustainable competitive advantage” – an often-elusive edge that companies constantly chase.

The key, according to Colvin, can be found in:

  1. Continually innovating your business model
  2. Integrating all aspects of the enterprise
  3. Building new high-value skills, such as STEM knowledge, collaboration, empathy, creative problem solving and storytelling

 

He noted that these principles apply not only to individual companies but to successful regions as well.

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How do we get there?

 

Citing the story of Uber launching its self-driving cars program in Pittsburgh, Colvin pointed to the environment of the region. Leaders in Pittsburgh fostered an attitude of regional collaboration, which allowed them to seize opportunities such as this for the purposes of bettering the region.

The summit is a reminder that working across city, county and stakeholder boundaries is critical to the collective success of the Upstate region. Every two years, this signature event sets the tone, but success is cultivated day-by-day through the collaborative work by organizations, businesses and local governments across the Upstate.

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For more information or to get involved, visit tenatthetop.org.

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