VisionGreenwood: Focused on Advancing Greenwood as a Community of Choice

VisionGreenwood: Focused on Advancing Greenwood as a Community of Choice

Greenwood, S.C. — The lack of reliable broadband service in parts of Greenwood became more apparent than ever this past year when schools and businesses quickly migrated to remote platforms with minimal time for in-depth planning, let alone infrastructure upgrades. Fortunately, help is on the horizon from VisionGreenwood, an established community partner dedicated to making Greenwood the best place in which to live, work and raise a family.

Kay Self, Executive Director for VisionGreenwood, explained that the recently launched “Closing the Gap” Speed Test, which was developed by the nonprofit through a public-private collaboration, will be used to collect real-time internet speed data from Greenwood residents over the next four to six weeks. With data in hand, VisionGreenwood will be able to apply for state and federal grants to help fund local internet infrastructure improvements.

“High-speed internet is no longer optional. It is critical for expanding educational and economic opportunities, especially for those in remote locations. By ensuring every Greenwood resident and business has access to broadband, we are positioning our community for success,” said Self.

Jim Pfeiffer, VisionGreenwood’s Board Chairman and Self Regional Healthcare President and CEO, noted “For more than a year now, we’ve seen first-hand just how important broadband internet is to our students, to remote work, and to telemedicine availability. In response, VisionGreenwood developed a Broadband Task Force to make sure Greenwood stays ahead of the curve in this area. The goal is to expand broadband internet connectivity throughout the entire county.”

Pfeiffer went on to say, “By mid-August, the Greenwood Broadband Task Force should have the necessary data to pinpoint areas that are in most need of reliable, affordable access to broadband service.”

While the name VisionGreenwood may be new to Greenwood County and the Upstate, the 501(c)(3) organization is simply reintroducing itself. In fact, the newly rebranded organization has a rich history in Greenwood. VisionGreenwood evolved from the Foundation for a Greater Greenwood County, Inc., which was created more than 20 years ago to support the former Greenwood Partnership Alliance’s charitable operations with a focus on community and workforce development. Since its inception, the non-profit has invested more than $2.9 million into the community by supporting initiatives that provide economic prosperity and enhance the growth and success of Greenwood.

“After thoughtful consideration, we decided to rebrand the foundation in 2021 to better reflect our purpose. Everything we do is grounded in our strategic long-term vision. By intent and design, VisionGreenwood continues to be a community partner that is focused on Greenwood’s future and its economic growth and development,” said Self. “We are now more determined than ever to see that Greenwood emerges as one of the top living and working communities in South Carolina.”

 

VisionGreenwood’s Core Areas of Focus

The stated mission of VisionGreenwood is “Providing leadership to enhance the quality of life in Greenwood through strategic long-term vision and collaborative community development initiatives.” To carry out its mission, VisionGreenwood’s Board has identified core areas of focus for development of the Greenwood community: Technology and Innovation, Education, City and Retail Development, Life Sciences and Biotechnology, and Medical Innovation District. Each area of focus has its own distinct initiatives.

In addition to the expansion of broadband coverage, another notable initiative launched this year is “The Brew,” described by Self as an “ecosystem” for locals to find resources and gain support for their businesses and trades. “The Brew is really where VisionGreenwood sees Greenwood’s collective creativity and its community collaborations collide,” said Self.

Part of a larger Upstate program developed to promote job growth through entrepreneurism, The Brew provides a venue for entrepreneurs, start-up businesses, and craftsmen to get community feedback about their business plans, challenges, and accomplishments. VisionGreenwood launched the Greenwood Chapter of “The Brew” in collaboration with Uptown Greenwood and the Greenwood Area Small Business Development Center.

“It takes a concerted effort to sustain new business ideas, so we explored effective programs in place throughout the state. We are pleased to be a part of the Regional Brew Program that successfully brings economic successes to communities in Anderson, Greenville, Greer and Spartanburg, and now Greenwood,” said Self.

Central to VisionGreenwood’s work is helping strategic partnerships continue to flourish. Perhaps Greenwood’s biggest claim to fame is its international reputation as a hub for innovation in the field of medical genetics.

“The Greenwood Genetic Center, together with the Clemson University Center for Human Genetics, is among the greatest strengths and most unique assets in our community. VisionGreenwood is proud to be associated with the ongoing development of the Greenwood Genetic Center Partnership Campus,” said Self, who serves on the Board of SCBIO, the statewide, not-for-profit, public/private life sciences industry association and economic development organization formed to actively promote, build, support, expand, and convene South Carolina's life sciences industry.

“Quality of life is the cornerstone of VisionGreenwood’s plan of work,” said Self. “We are committed to supporting the development of neighborhoods that provide entertainment, shopping, and dining, along with quality healthcare, world-class education, and employment – all necessary attributes for a thriving community.”

Pfeiffer added, “Above all, VisionGreenwood exists to make Greenwood a community of choice — one where people want to come and want to stay, whether young professionals or retirees.”

In June 2021, VisionGreenwood rolled out a refreshed website showcasing the many ways in which the organization is working to better the community. To learn more, visit www.VisionGreenwood.org and be sure to follow @VisionGreenwoodSC on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

 

About Vision Greenwood

VisionGreenwood is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with deep roots in the Greenwood community. Throughout the past 20 years, VisionGreenwood (formerly known as the Foundation for a Greater Greenwood County, Inc.) has invested over $2.9 million into the community by supporting collaborative community development initiatives that provide economic prosperity and enhance the growth and success of Greenwood. The Foundation was originally created to support the former Greenwood Partnership Alliance’s charitable operations with a focus on community and workforce development. The Foundation became a stand-alone organization in 2020 and was rebranded as VisionGreenwood in 2021. By intent and design, VisionGreenwood continues to be a community partner that is focused on Greenwood’s future, its economic growth and development, and its quality of life.

 

Greenwood Broadband Task Force

Formed by VisionGreenwood earlier this year, the Greenwood Broadband Task Force has a singular focus: bringing reliable broadband service to underserved residents, businesses, and organizations. The Task Force is chaired by South Carolina Senator Billy Garrett and includes 23 members representing Greenwood City and County government, Upper Savannah Council of Governments, state legislators, network and utility providers, higher educational institutions, healthcare entities, industry leaders, and school administrators.

 

More about VisionGreenwood’s “Closing the Gap” Speed Test

VisionGreenwood’s “Closing the Gap” Speed Test is a crowd-sourced internet speed test created by the consulting group GEO Partners, LLC, which maps areas by telephonic, cable and broadband companies. The “Closing the Gap” Speed Test became available on VisionGreenwood’s website, www.visiongreenwood.org, effective June 16, 2021. Because citizen participation is critical to the success of this initiative, VisionGreenwood encourages all Greenwood residents to test their broadband speed. The test takes less than one minute to complete, and no personal information will be collected.

Take the Broadband Speed Test >

VisionGreenwood announces broadband task force, speed test

VisionGreenwood announces broadband task force, speed test

“Closing the Gap Speed Test is key to helping us determine the best plan for building out the most extensive and economical broadband coverage for the underserved areas of the county,” Self said. “What makes this even more exciting is that the data collected over the next 4 to 6 weeks will allow VisionGreenwood to apply for state and federal grants to help fund our local internet infrastructure improvements.”

Take the Broadband Speed Test >

Read the full article at the Index Journal >

Millennial Recruitment

Millennial Recruitment

VisionGreenwood is working to improve its recruitment and retention of 20-39 year old professionals to help with future growth and economic vitality.

The Millennials are entering a stage of life when they are marrying, buying homes, and having children at the same time that the demands of work are increasing, while they are equipped (and sometimes expected) to work 24/7.  VisionGreenwood is focused on their needs helping to improve housing, schools, and crime.

Green Space & Trail Connections

Green Spaces & Trail Connections

New research strengthens the idea that green spaces boost longevity, and green space in a community enhances the well-being and public health of our residents.

Expanding Green Spaces

VisionGreenwood is partnering with the City of Greenwood to identify and expand  green spaces in Uptown Greenwood. According to Medical News today, studies show that  green spaces reduce stress and boost mental and physical health.

Green spaces are also associated with better air quality, reduced traffic noise, cooler temperatures, and greater diversity.

Property Option Agreements

Companies looking to relocate to an area have the #1 goal to maximize the return on their investment with the least risk.

Having properties with agreements in place that lock in price and specifications, reduces any conflicts with purchasing the property. VisionGreenwood continues to market the option agreements on many properties suitable for development in Greenwood. This marketing helps highlight the Greenwood community for future opportunities and growth.

View All Properties

Medical Innovation District

Medical Innovation District

Less than one mile from Uptown, Self Regional Healthcare’s main campus serves as the hub for medical services for the Lakelands region. The area includes roughly seven full blocks in the central portion of Greenwood and is truly a medical district for the region.

The Edgefield Street Corridor

The Edgefield Street corridor area represents perhaps the most significant connection among Greenwood’s key assets and a singular opportunity to link them more closely. VisionGreenwood in collaboration with the City of Greenwood and community partners will continue to preserve and enhance this neighborhood while fostering the connections that will continue to make Greenwood an innovator in revitalization.

Connecting Us

Many strong assets remain in the district and the potential for the Edgefield and South Main corridors to connect Uptown with Greenwood’s medical district and research park are significant opportunity.

Community Education

Community Education

VisionGreenwood is partnering with Lander University and the G. Frank Russell Technology Center (RTC) to enhance workforce and community development in our area.

In partnership with Lander University, VisionGreenwood will establish gap funding to enable students with 90 credit hours or more to complete their degree.

In partnership with the RTC, VisionGreenwood will support the creation of a tiny house project as part of an existing building construction program.

The goal is to provide students with hands-on training to help develop skill-based workers. This long-term successful program will then serve to feed and sustain much needed trade-based jobs in our community.

Lander University Scholarship Program

VisionGreenwood is partnering with Lander University to establish scholarships to ensure more affordable access to higher education for Greenwood County residents who are eager to finish their education goals.

This program, A Pathway to Advancement, will be particularly beneficial for stop-outs, which are students in good academic standing who decide to discontinue their education for financial reasons. Many stop-outs are only a few courses shy of finishing their program. A Pathway to Advancement will help these students complete the remaining hours of coursework needed to earn their degree.

Statistics 

  • 25% - Greenwood County residents reported to have a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • 3,500 – Number of Lander University alumni who reside in Greenwood County
  • 57 – Number of stop-outs living in Greenwood County that Lander University has identified

RTC’s Building Construction Program and Tiny House Project

Supporting workforce education is vital to the growth and success of Greenwood. Trade-based jobs offer students work that pays well and is in demand without them acquiring college debt.

VisionGreenwood is partnering with RTC to propose a hands-on training program in which students have the opportunity to build a tiny house. This will help generate interest in the trade, develop much needed trade workers, and create a long-term successful program to sustain trade-based jobs. The initial tiny house will then be actioned off to create a recurring fund stream for the next decade of construction training.

G. Frank Russell Technology Center, Building Construction Program

What is the G. Frank Russell Technology Center?

The G. Frank Russell Technology Center (RTC) is preparing students to be career and life ready by getting them actively involved in obtaining career and technical skills. The RTC covers a variety of educational areas, including automotive, biomedical science, building construction, computer programing, cosmetology, culinary arts, early childhood education, finance/accounting, health science, manufacturing, and engineering.

What is the current problem facing Greenwood?

Greenwood has many talented trade workers that provide service to our local residents and businesses. Unfortunately, many of these skilled individuals are nearing retirement, and few students are stepping into these essential roles.

Skill-based trades such as carpentry, masonry, and electrical work are essential for our community. VisionGreenwood is focused on generating more interest in RTC’s building construction classes and increasing student attendance.

 

Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Building

Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Building

Entrepreneurism is the cornerstone of any thriving community that promotes job growth, increases the tax base, and reinvests into the individual lives of citizens by improving the overall quality of life. 

Most importantly, an area conducive to entrepreneurial success attracts and retains people in a respective area. Simply put, great ideas will lead to new products and, if presented with the right resources, will have the opportunity to flourish.

Realizing that a concerted effort to sustain new business ideas with community feedback led VisionGreenwood to explore programs successfully being implemented throughout the state. VisionGreenwood is proud to launch Greenwood’s chapter of “The Brew” in collaboration with Uptown Greenwood and the Greenwood Area Small Business Center. We are pleased to be a part of the Regional Brew Program that successfully brings economic successes to communities in Anderson, Greenville, Spartanburg, and Greer.

The Brew Program

Business ideas with community feedback

Program Overview


The program begins with a 6-10-minute presentation from a local entrepreneur. The presentation features an overview of their business, why they started their business, and where they want to see it grow in the future. For startup businesses, the presentation features their background, business idea, and plans for opening in the future.

The presentation ends with 3-4 questions for the audience. The questions can be related to a particular challenge they are facing or general matters that will help them accomplish their business goals. The audience then uses the time remaining for Q&A, and feedback to help and support the presenting entrepreneur.

The Brew also provides special edition sessions throughout the year that feature expert speakers to discuss various hot topics in business. Examples include social media marketing, financial planning, local business resources, and business plan writing.

The program’s implementation strategy may be tailored to meet the needs of your community. However, we have found the following recommendations to be a proven methodology for accomplishing the mission of The Brew.

 

Sign up to be a Presenter

If you would be interested in presenting at a Brew event, please contact Kay Self

Program Guidelines

  • Presenter must be a for-profit business
  • Presenter cannot use the program as a sales pitch platform
  • Presentation should stay within a 6–10-minute time period
  • Time remaining should be designated for Q&A, and audience feedback
  • Program is free admission and open to the public

 

The Brew Communities

Anderson

Greenville

Greenwood

Greer

Spartanburg

Community & City Retail Recruitment

Community & City Retail Recruitment

VisionGreenwood recognizes the importance of our community and the continued growth and vibrancy of Uptown Greenwood. This is why we have several community enhancement plans in development.

Retail Development

VisionGreenwood has a long-standing history of reinvesting in the Greenwood community. We will enhance Uptown Greenwood by:

  • Developing alliances
  • Renewing plans
  • Focusing on key opportunities

Our goal is to identify projects that have a positive impact on our community and its residents.

Buxton Retail Study

VisionGreenwood funded the Buxton Retail Study in 2019 as a means to support retail development in Greenwood. We will continue to partner with the City of Greenwood to make this plan a reality. The study identified 20 new businesses that were a match for Uptown Greenwood and the surrounding areas.

As we move forward with the Buxton Retail Study, we will continue to collaborate with the City of Greenwood on an available building inventory in Uptown Greenwood.

Community Development

Community Development

Quality of Life continues to be the cornerstone of VisionGreenwood’s plan of work.

VisionGreenwood will continue to support development of our communities and neighborhoods that provide entertainment, shopping, quality health care, and world class education as well as employment in order to attract and retain both young professionals and retirees.

Retail

Mixed-use development needs to capture the current re-development of Uptown Greenwood. VisionGreenwood will support and invest in our community that provide entertainment as well as employment in order to attract young professionals.

Edgefield Corridor

Continue support of the City Center Master Plan and the connection from Uptown Greenwood to Self Regional Healthcare and Lander campuses including revitalization of inner city neighborhoods.