From left front row are Lesley Lane, Executive Asst. to the President, Greenwood Building; George Swindell, Treasurer, Parks Foundation; and John Elsley, Board Member of the Parks Foundation. Back row: Soni Davis, Assistant VP, Greenwood Building; Art Fousek, Director of IT, Greenwood Building; Billy Nicholson, Board Chair, Parks Foundation; Mary Lyle Cathcart, and Michael McCarthy, Event Co-Chairs, and Rachel Davis, Connect YP Chair.
Connect Young Professionals, a program of the Greenwood SC Chamber, recently hosted the 2nd annual Ales for Trails 5K and beer tasting to benefit the Greater Greenwood Parks and Trails Foundation. Co-chairs Mary Lyle Cathcart and Michael McCarthy organized the successful event which saw an increase in attendance of over 140 runners, walkers, and park supporters, thus raising $3,500 for the Foundation! Returning as the presenting sponsor again for the second year was The Greenwood Building.
Beginning at the Railroad Historical Center on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), participants ran the 3.1 mile course along the Heritage Trail, and enjoyed ales provided by Good Times Brewing Company. Ales for Trails is Connect YP’s signature service project and provides young professionals with hands-on experience in community leadership, event planning, and volunteer management.
Representatives of both organizations met at the Grace Street Park for the check presentation.
As a fifth-grader at Greenwood’s East End Elementary School, Brandon Smith wrote an essay about one day becoming mayor.
Decades later, the 38-year-old attorney is preparing to put his dream into action, formally declaring himself as a candidate for the top municipal position.
“I believe it’s an exciting time to be a Greenwoodian, and I believe it’s a time in Greenwood’s history,” Smith said. “When we look back in 30 or 40 years, decisions we make today are going to have a lasting impact. I’m extremely excited about where this city is going.”
Smith, who maintains a law firm in The Greenwood Building, becomes the second person to run for the seat. Greenwood Community Theatre executive director Stephen Gilbert announced his candidacy last summer.
Both are vying to replace Welborn Adams, who ruled out another term in November 2016.
A political neophyte, Smith said he’s opting to run for mayor because of the strong representation provided by the City Council.
“I look forward to coming in and working with these folks, because I don’t think the team we’ve got in place is broken,” he said. “I have zero interest in using this as a stepping stone, but I feel like a local election like this, you can make an actual difference.”
Smith and wife, Tara, have three boys: Jarratt, 12, Witt, 9, and Benjo, 6. They attend Main Street United Methodist Church. He’s also active in several local and state organizations, including the Arts Center of Greenwood, the United Way of Abbeville and Greenwood Counties, Greenwood Kiwanis Club and the Greenwood SC Chamber of Commerce.
Smith said his top priorities are working with county leaders to identify more opportunities for collaboration and advocating for a larger housing stock within the city to accommodate young families moving into the region.
“With so much growth here in the city, nothing drives me crazier than to see folks coming in from out of state and living 50 miles away,” he said. “I know how much we’re losing in terms of tax base when we have folks willing to drive out of town.”
Smith moved to Greenwood from Arkansas in the mid-1980s when his father, Dewitt H. Smith III joined the Savannah Lakes Village in McCormick.
“You’re never going to find a bigger cheerleader for Greenwood than me,” Smith said. “I grew up here and loved it, but I can’t imagine there being a more exciting time, we’ve just got so much going on that I want to be a part of the progress.”
Although running for mayor fulfills a lifelong pursuit for Smith, he welcomes an engaging race that provides voters choice, with praise for Gilbert and anybody else who seeks the office.
“I respect anybody who would take the time to run for mayor,” Smith said. “For whatever reason, if it’s not me (who wins), I’m willing to set aside any ego and help any way I can. Greenwood is a special place for a number of reasons.”
A silvery swirl cascades into a seemingly bottomless vortex — all contained within a marble that can fit in the palm of a hand.
Glassblower Andrew Lazenby shapes the spheres himself, melting glass down until it flows and shaping it into a sphere. Lazenby and his wife, Mary, are both artists based out of Rock Hill, and sell some of their pieces at Main & Maxwell.The smooth, featureless surface of the marbles show off the swirls of color inside perfectly. Lazenby said that’s part of what’s so appealing about glassblowing — it’s a 3D work of art he crafts inside of a sphere of molten glass.
“There’s the challenge of making something perfectly round,” he said. “Then there’s the idea that you have this small volume of space to decorate something with … How am I using heat and gravity, because those are our only tools, really, effectively?”
Lazenby demonstrated his craft Dec. 2 in front of Main & Maxwell in Uptown Greenwood. He took cylinders of clear glass, using a blowtorch to cut, melt and shape the glass into hollow spheres. A small speck of silver or gold, melted and vaporized in the heat of the blowtorch, colored some of the spheres a yellowish hue, before he shaped a hoop atop them and finished the ornament.
Hand-blown glass ornaments might be a seasonal item, but he said he has to work early and often to meet demand.
“I start making ornaments in June, to meet the demand at this point,” he said during his demonstration. “If I could only make marbles, I’d be a happy man, but ornaments pay the bills.”
He usually makes 1,000 ornaments by the holiday season, he said. He’s also started to make stemware and goblets, but his main passion is still crafting marbles.
When a friend of his made a special request, Lazenby was tasked with making a marble with a special layer of emotional value. He was asked if he could incorporate cremated remains into a marble.
“There’s a responsibility with that,” he said. “You don’t really want to mess it up.”
Since then, he’s been commissioned to make other memorial pieces, including pendants. With each, crafting it takes on an air of ceremony.
He cleans his workshop thoroughly, to ensure the remains aren’t contaminated. As he incorporates the ash into the glass, any leftover glass is kept separate and given back to the client, so all of the cremated remains are returned.
Some clients give him the remains with little instruction, while others give him pictures of their loved one, the titles of songs they loved and lengthy letters describing the person. He’s had clients come and watch him make the marble, and has had others ask to work with him while making it.
“It’s soul-satisfying, but it’s also incredibly nerve-wracking,” he said.
More information on Lazenby and his wife can be found at blue-goosestudios.com, and their pieces can be seen and bought at Main & Maxwell.
This aerial photo from the Greenwood Partnership Alliance shows boundary lines of the North Greenwood Industrial Park.
Before a region can host new economic development, it has to be prepared to bring investments in, through a trained workforce and the availability of ready-made sites.
And Greenwood County’s work on these behind-the-scenes priorities has positioned it as a state and national leader.
On Wednesday, Duke Energy announced that Greenwood County’s north industrial park is one of three South Carolina properties selected for the company’s Site Readiness Program, which qualifies them for a $10,000 matching grant from the utility to help attract projects.
That follows a September designation by Site Selection Magazine that named Greenwood as the country’s second-leading county for attainment of the National Career Readiness Certificate.
“We are laser-focused on the development of a ready workforce, as well as increased product offerings,” Greenwood Partnership Alliance CEO Heather Simmons Jones said. “Companies need sites and buildings that match or have the flexibility to quickly match their needs, and what good is a facility if you can’t fill it with qualified workers?”
With initiatives such as The Greenwood Promise and the pending construction of an advanced manufacturing training center on the campus of Piedmont Technical College, Greenwood’s development of career readiness programs helped vault its reputation. Oconee County was ranked 6th by Site Selection Magazine for workforce certificates.
The ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate is an assessment-based credential earned through scores on three ACT WorkKeys assessments – applied math, graphic literacy, and workplace documents – that measure foundational employability skills. In the 2014-15 school year, South Carolina introduced a statewide initiative to require all 11th-grade students to complete the WorkKeys assessment.
“Greenwood and Oconee counties are showcasing the Upstate’s talent pool and the payoff of collaborative efforts to connect today’s students to tomorrow’s career opportunities, in both urban and rural communities,” said John Lummus, president and CEO of the Upstate SC Alliance, said in a statement. “I’m proud that not one, but two, Upstate communities stand out among the nation.”
In August, County Council voted to spend $1.1 million for construction and engineering of an access road, sewer lines and signage leading to the North Greenwood Industrial Park on 31.7 acres between Hodges and Ware Shoals.
The funds are coming from three places: $600,000 from a state Department of Commerce grant, $125,000 from Duke Energy’s site readiness program and $395,000 from the county.
Councilman Theo Lane, who is also Duke Energy’s district manager for government and community relations, has been a proponent of the business park. He said in August that early action on site preparation and land clearing sends a strong message to potential investors.
“I fully believe the north industrial corridor is the best development opportunity out there for Greenwood County. In the south end, because of road access and getting product to customers, we’re probably not going to be able to put any significant industry there,” he said. “When they (potential businesses) see it graded and grubbed and all the work going in with a marquee out front, that says, ‘this isn’t a pipe dream, it’s something that’s really going to happen.’”
From June 2014 to June 2016, at least 20 projects were lost for Greenwood because of lack available buildings and 19 requests for information were never submitted because of a dearth of building space.
On May 1, county residents began paying an additional 1 percent in local sales tax to finance $85 million in capital improvement projects after voters approved the levy in a November referendum.
The North Greenwood Industrial Park is slated to receive $8.4 million of that for development of a 31.7-acre parcel offering businesses ready-made pads. Plans also call for the construction of a spec building that can be presented to potential investors.
Caroline Davis opened her stationery shop, FIG, in the Greenwood Building in May.
Caroline Davis doesn’t call herself an entrepreneur, but like the adage goes: Actions speak louder than words.
The 31-year-old Greenwood native is still in the infancy of living out a dream to run her own business, six months ago opening Fig in Uptown Greenwood, a stationery store specializing in personalized invitation located in the Greenwood Building.
“I really say that this is exactly what I envisioned and I’ve been blown away by the amount of support. It kind of all came together,” Davis said. “I can’t imagine it any different.”
Davis, who graduated from Greenwood High School before earning a bachelor’s degree in education from Clemson University in 2008, said her inspiration was born out of childhood memories shopping Uptown.
“I’ve been thinking about this about five years. I just thought there was a void and we needed it here, kind of a younger gift shop. People haven’t had a place to go for invitations in a few years now and I knew they were excited about it,” Davis said. “There’s probably about two to three invitation orders a week, and I was not expecting that.”
Davis is among a wave of young investors who are putting money into Uptown’s continued renaissance. She’s just a few dozen feet from Think Tank, a business incubator with Main Street retail space. Just down the block, The Mill House continues its expansion.
There’s also the addition of Fat Daddy’s BBQ to the Shoppes at Hampton Place.
Uptown Greenwood Manager Lara Hudson said Davis’ presence adds a dash of dynamism to the area.
“We love to see young entrepreneurs invest in Uptown. Caroline was already a familiar face to Uptown while she was at Blossom, and now she brings a refreshing, stylish and unique shopping experience at Fig,” she said.
If someone asks Davis whether she views herself as an entrepreneur, there’s a long pause before her answer.
“I don’t know, it’s something I ever thought of,” she said. “I’m not one looking for attention or wanting to be in the spotlight. I’m just very unassuming, but I thought there was a need for this and it’s something I enjoy doing and I needed to transition.”
Davis spent the past five years working as an events planner in Savannah, Georgia, but wanted to come home to spend more time with her family.
“I was ready to move back to Greenwood, or closer to Greenwood, and this just kind of happened,” she said. “I have learned a lot, and there’s way more to learn. I’m learning something new every day.”
With her sights set on teaching, Davis quickly changed her goals after graduating from Clemson in 2008 and into the teeth of the Great Recession.
“When I moved home, Greenwood was actually under a hiring freeze, so I couldn’t get a job,” she said.
Davis got her start in Uptown working at Blossom Shoes and Such, a Main Street boutique. The store’s owner, Kimberly Thomasson, fostered Davis’ goal, helping her with site selection and offering money saving tips.
Now, Davis has ambitions to expand her 650-square-foot store and has hired a part-time employee.
“I felt that I took my time, and I’m not the type to take a big leap. That’s why I took plenty of time,” Davis said. “People really have turned out and been so supportive.”
As a small business owner, Davis said she has benefitted from Uptown’s emphasis on providing quality products to nurture local spending.
“They like the local, they like the one-on-one interaction — especially when they taught me kindergarten or knew me growing up,” she said.
Finding a home in Greenwood Building brings Davis full circle. Her grandfather worked for Greenwood Development and her father was with Greenwood Mills — both had offices in the iconic Uptown structure.
“It just kind of came about one day. They said they had a space available that I should look into, and you really had to walk in and envision it,” Davis said. “It very much was an office.”
Now, Davis has the further advantage of owning a store in one of America’s great places of 2017 as recognized by the American Planning Association. “I think it’s definitely the place to be. When I was opening, I never looked elsewhere,” she said. “This is the best place to be, especially for a small business. All of the owners are so supportive of each other and bringing people Uptown. This was the best fit.”
Students from Augusta, Georgia learn about genetics during an April field trip at the Greenwood Genetic Center in this Index-Journal file photo. Ariel Gilreath
As Greenwood County officials prepare to convert a north-end parcel into a multi-million dollar business park, one of the region’s top research institutions is hoping to add a similar function to its campus.
The Greenwood Genetic Center is finalizing a memorandum of understanding with the Greenwood Partnership Alliance, using its recruitment and marketing experience to build out its 170-acre southside campus on the heels of a recently completed strategic plan.
“The concept is to build off our strengths and start attracting additional partners,” Genetic Center Director Steve Skinner said. “We realize we don’t have the expertise to develop property or a park, but the Partnership Alliance does.”
The efforts got a boost in February when Clemson University opened a 17,000-square-foot Center for Human Genetics.
Greenwood Partnership Alliance CEO Heather Simmons Jones said last week that fostering growth on the Genetic Center’s campus is a top priority for her organization over the next year.
“When we finished the strategic plan last year, it became even more obvious that the success and future of the research park depended largely on the Genetic Center and the Partnership working closely together,” she said. “With the assistance of the GGC on the technical side, we believe that we can take the campus to the next level and provide high-paying opportunities to the residents of our community.”
The plan, conducted by Louisville, Kentucky-based Point A Consulting, imagines a campus that integrates residential and commercial units with biotech and other advanced science companies that complement the Genetic Center’s mission.
“The campus will become the location of choice for companies and organizations seeking a quality-of-life environment focused on promoting connections and collaboration. To accomplish this, the new land plan provides an intentional framework for transforming GGC’s consolidated properties into a dynamic, harmonious environment — one that serves as both an anchor of Greenwood’s emerging Medical Innovation District, and also a vital, connected hub within the broader Greenwood community,” a draft version of the plan states.
The document lays out a broad vision for the Genetic Center’s future land use plans.
“Everyone in Greenwood has a stake in the success of GGC and its Partnership Campus. In turn, the Campus will be developed in ways that leverage and complement its surrounding medical and healthcare partners, and ultimately the health and wellness of Greenwood, of South Carolina, and of the world,” it said.
Greenwood residents Pete McKibbon and Heidi Hoogstraal ride their bikes through the City’s Uptown district.
For the core group of city planners, economic development officials and merchants who have built Uptown Greenwood into the vibrant destination spot it is today, that’s an adjective that is frequently deployed.
Now, it’s no longer a matter of opinion.
On Wednesday, the American Planning Association named Uptown Greenwood one of five “Great Neighborhoods” for 2017, joining an exclusive list of places across the country honored for creating a unique cultural identity using sustainable practices that foster economic growth.
“To receive a designation from the American Planning Association that recognizes Uptown Greenwood in the same class as 275 other great places in America, that’s a pretty significant endorsement,” City Manager Charlie Barrineau said. “To me, though, the validation has already been received with the many, many small businesses, eateries and boutiques that have opened in Uptown Greenwood over the last decade.”
Ten other locales were named a “great street” or “great public place” by the APA.
In all, the American Planning Association has singled out 260 neighborhoods, streets and public spaces during the past 10 years with its “great places” designation, with just five others in South Carolina: Broad and King streets in Charleston, the city’s Waterfront Park, the Beaufort Historic District and Main Street in Greenville.
“We take great pride that the American Planning Association has named Uptown Greenwood, South Carolina as one of the Great Neighborhoods in the nation. Uptown is the heart and soul of our community,” Mayor Welborn Adams said. “This award underscores Greenwood’s commitment to long-term planning, investment in cultural and historic interests, and a vision for our future.”
Uptown Greenwood as it is today has its origins in a 2003 City Center Master Plan that sought to transform the once-major railroad artery into a mixed-use enclave to support local business, new residential growth and tourism.
The 12-page application in support of Uptown Greenwood’s nomination describes an effort to keep the 100-acre district as much in line with its historic origins as possible while implementing modern tax incentives and planning tools to create a public art venue, social center and revenue stream for the city.
“Uptown Greenwood is now one of the most vibrant downtown areas in the South and one of the best success stories in downtown redevelopment in South Carolina,” the application said.
In March, the Uptown district expanded its borders for the since time since its 1984 creation when the Shoppes at Hampton Plaza were added to the 13-block district, which has a taxable base of $25 million.
And in September, Barrineau told the City Council that Greenwood’s hospitality tax — which launched in 2006 — has generated more than $15.5 million for community enhancement projects in Uptown.
This summer, the City Council unanimously approved a request by Arts Center Director Anne Craig to pursue a cultural arts district designation by the state Arts Commission.
Uptown’s two major summer events, the festivals of Discovery and Flowers, brought in more than $8 million in economic impact this year.
City/County Planner Phil Lindler, a member of the APA and past president of its South Carolina chapter, said being named a “great neighborhood” reinforces the decision by officials to focus on Uptown as a hub of commerce.
“This is the highest honor our professional organization presents to a community, street or neighborhood. It is important to note that this award is in recognition to those individuals throughout the number of decades that have worked for and with the city to make Uptown what it is today,” Lindler said.
Frank Wideman, a member of the Greenwood Partnership Alliance board of directors and president of the Self Family Foundation, said Uptown Greenwood’s proven success has made it easier to attract new and diverse investments over the years.
The foundation played a key role in bringing the Arts Center to the Federal Building with a $1.75 million grant.
“We knew that our investments were having a significant impact,” Wideman said. “The challenge was to get people to come to the town center, which led to things like the Mill House and the wine shop, and everything just built on each other.”
The application echoes Wideman’s assessment.
“The public has truly taken ownership of their Uptown,” it said.
Billy Ray Reeder, left, and his son, Chris, stand in the dining room of their second Fat Daddy’s BBQ location in Uptown Greenwood.
Over phone calls and text messages, Cross Hill’s Fat Daddy’s BBQ came to be.
Owner Billy Ray Reeder would exchange tips and recipes with his sons and implement their findings and advice into dishes that quickly made his eatery a go-to location for Lakelands barbecue aficionados.
This fall, his son Chris is expanding the family brand into a 4,000-square foot restaurant located in Uptown Greenwood’s Shoppes at Hampton Place — marking a $200,000 investment he hopes will lead to expansion opportunities.
For now, Reeder — a Lakelands native who spent the past 12 years in Charleston running Jim ‘N Nick’s and helping to open Rodney Scott’s BBQ — is focused on building upon his father’s creation.
“It was a great opportunity for me and my family to come back to Greenwood. I grew up here,” Reeder said. “We’re all in on this. Hopefully, this will be the second of three of four. We’ll take on local partners in different areas.”
With more than 15 years of restaurant ownership and managerial experience and a lifelong relationship with that granddaddy of all Southern cuisine, Reeder said Fat Daddy’s Greenwood location is primed for success.
“The city has made huge strides and continue to make progress,” Reeder said. “Really, all you’re ever going to be is your food and your people. So if you don’t bring both of those along at the same time, you can’t grow.”
Uptown Manager Lara Hudson said Fat Daddy’s addition to the city’s merchant district continues its momentum and validates investments made over the past decade to enhance the sector.
“We’re very excited about the addition of Fat Daddy’s in Uptown. Their investment, along with current dining and retail establishments will enhance the atmosphere of The Shoppes at Hampton Place,” she said. “We feel certain the streetscape projects and other revitalization efforts throughout the Uptown area play a vital role in generating both new businesses and expansion of existing ones.”
Reeder said he plans to be visible and accessible to patrons when Fat Daddy’s opens.
“Places where you can see the face of the business every day, those things thrive,” he said.
As host city for the South Carolina Festival of Discovery, Reeder believes Uptown Greenwood benefits from having a year-round barbecue.
It’s also going to provide a learning experience for Reeder that could lead to new menu items.
“In barbecue especially, you learn things from each other and those are the kind of things we’re going to add as options,” Reeder said. “There are different techniques and sauces that move as families spread out.”
He also hopes Fat Daddy’s has a ripple effect for his fellow Uptown proprietors.
“If the buzz is to come Uptown and eat barbecue on Thursday here, it’s also going to cause a buzz for people going to the Mill House and others places. It becomes a place to go, and that’s a big deal.”
Kim and Kevin Franklin are set to open Southern Soul on Main in Uptown Greenwood on April 21.
Two restaurants. A boutique store specializing in personalized stationery. A salon and spa. An acupuncture and natural medicine shop.
All have recently opened or will do so soon in spaces across Uptown Greenwood, responding to continued investments by city leaders to upgrade the sector’s arcades and promote its walkability and economic development potential.
“I think Uptown Greenwood has done a really good job in the last decade or so to prove that we have what it takes to be a thriving community,” said Lesley Lane, who manages space in The Greenwood Building.
On March 28, Golden Root Natural Medicine opened at 207 Waller Ave., just a few doors down from the former home of Asian fusion restaurant UchiE, which shuttered in mid-January.
But soon, the 217 Waller Ave. location will be known as El Maya, a family-run restaurant specializing in Mexican cuisine.
Owner Mari Carmen Solis said they’re still waiting on permits and haven’t announced a grand opening date yet, but she said Uptown was an attractive site.
“There’s a lot of business in the area, and really nice space,” she said.
And next Friday, Kevin Franklin and his wife, Kim, will open Southern Soul on Main at 312 Main St.
“We figured the Uptown area was pretty unique and the environment here is versatile and will attract all types of different customers,” he said. “We’re going for a family-oriented vibe, and the atmosphere here is a whole lot different.”
Caroline Davis, a Greenwood native who moved back to the city two years ago from Savannah, Georgia, is slated to become The Greenwood Building’s second retail tenant when she opens Fig early next month.
“I just felt there was a void in the Greenwood market for this kind of store, which I remember from growing up in Greenwood as a little girl,” Davis said. “It’ll be a cozy little store, but we’ll fill it up.”
Fig, which stands for Fine Invitations and Gifts, marks The Greenwood Building’s second foray into the retail world.
Lane said Davis’ plan will complement the popular Main & Maxwell at 210 Main St., an art gallery featuring pieces by local and regional artists.
“As far as Caroline goes, her vision will really cater to a younger generation, which is going to be really important to Uptown Greenwood in the years to come,” she said. “We’re thrilled that Fig is going to be joining Uptown.”
So is City Manager Charlie Barrineau.
“Success attracts success. With a growing mix of clothier, unique retail, hospitality, offices and a full-service boutique hotel, Uptown will continue to attract entrepreneurs,” he said. “The landscape and walkability of Uptown also lends itself to a positive visitor experience.”
Barrineau said Buffalo Grill owner Jeff Robinson also plans to open a salon and spa on the third floor of the Grier building.
In February, the City Council voted to allocate $530,000 in hospitality tax revenues to areas of concern at the 34-year-old arcades, including better lighting, pedestrian-friendly handrails and mechanical upgrades to its three elevators.
Lane said city leadership’s approach toward growing Uptown – from bringing in an urban farmers market to initiatives such as Bee City USA that requires ecologically sensitive planning – is directly tied to its continued growth.
“Our city leaders have done a phenomenal job over the last decade with coming up with some really progressive ideas,” she said.
Ongoing projects such as a major renovation at 206 Main St. – former location of Jay-Smith Clothing Co. – is bringing ground-level retail space and a business incubation center.
Gianpaolo “Geep” Bonaca, proprietor of The Mill House, is spending $700,000 on improvements to building at 233 Maxwell Ave., that will expand his business, add 25 employees and $500,000 in hospitality tax dollars to the city and allow the restaurant’s Good Times brewery to take on a statewide profile.
Uptown Greenwood is such a hot commodity that earlier this year, business owners in the Shoppes at Hampton Place plaza at 115 Hampton Ave., told their landlord they’d be willing to pay more taxes so they could join the district.
Last month, the City Council unanimously voted to annex the 6-acre shopping center into the district, expanding its borders for the first time since it was created in 1984. Spread across 13 city blocks, the district has a taxable base of $25 million.
A new social media and marketing campaign is under way as well.
Uptown Greenwood, South Carolina invites you to visit our community! This year, the City has more to offer than ever! From shopping for gifts under the tree to sharing a moment with a friend in town for a visit!