The Who’s Who winners weigh in on the current state of the Upstate, and look ahead to how best to take on future challenges and opportunities.
- A favorable or advantageous circumstance or combination of circumstances.
- A chance for progress or advancement, as in a career.
Greenville is a great place to live and work. I think the disparity between minorities and non-minorities – the gap is widening. A great opportunity is to encourage all of the wealth generation happening in the Upstate to cross all lines, all cultures.
The Greenville Chamber is looking hard at these things; the 100 Black Men Upstate chapter is looking at those things. Everyone is looking at the disparities, and that’s a good thing. Now we have to get past the thinking about it and get to the doing. And I think Greenville is ready and the Upstate is ready to do it. I intend to stay here and be a relevant participant in the change.
I saw Greenville when it was a great town, I saw it disappear, and then I watched it come all the way back from nothing. There’s nothing more fun than to see some of the big dogs come in from New York or Chicago, and they come to Greenville, and when they leave they say, “This is absolutely extraordinary.” It’s fun to see… I was going to say the pinnacle of our success, but I don’t think we’re at the pinnacle at this point. You never get to your pinnacle if you keep expanding.
I don’t think the Upstate is being held back. So it’s, what can we do to accelerate the quality of our life as opposed to making more money? And I think that centers on an openness and willingness to new ideas, a commitment to sharing. As long as we keep that openness, I think we’re going to be astonishingly successful.
The biggest opportunity going forward is to embrace the local culture of Anderson-Greenville-Spartanburg and the surrounding 10-county area. Really focus on the new culture of entrepreneurship and the old-school culture coming together to move South Carolina forward.
I think this a gem of a place. On top of the people we have these natural assets. It’s beautiful – we have the mountains, we have access to water. So moving forward, how to manage growth? It’s exciting, but we’re going to have population booms, so how are we going to accommodate that and grow? What are our jobs going to look like? What’s our tax base going to look like? What’s the infrastructure going to look like? Tremendous opportunity, but lots of people need to be involved to lead us through this transformation.
We do better than a lot of communities, but I think [a challenge is] providing decent, affordable housing and transportation and job opportunities for people who have been left out. And raising minimum wage. It’s $7.35. I’d love to see it up to $15, but for people who don’t even want it to get to $7.75, that’s going to be a hard argument.
[The biggest opportunity is] tapping into assets of our youth. Investing in them and teaching them real-life skills I think is huge. Many teenagers are missing out on that in their formal education, so giving those experiences is a huge opportunity the Upstate has to take advantage of.
We have to find a better way of leveraging all of the great resources the community has – and that includes the human capital as well as all of the great agencies and organizations – in a very collaborative way. The Upstate has such tremendous opportunity, but sometimes we slow that progress toward reaching our full potential by not being willing to step across the borders to collaborate in a very effective way, and to identify people that may not be at the table but should be.
Greenville has so much to offer, but I always say one of the underdeveloped pillars is the work that we do around diversity and inclusion; people want to be part of a community that’s seen as inclusive and progressive and open-minded. That’s one reason I’m so happy to receive this award, and to see the work of diversity and inclusion being honored outside my industry.