What is Greenville, SC in just a few words? A friendly town with Southern charm? Or a rapidly evolving city that’s quickly becoming a business and innovation epicenter?
Here’s another question: Why not both?
That’s the thing about any growing city in the United States. Compared to larger cities, a growing mid-size city’s friendly nature and lower prices will always be a draw. But compared to smaller communities, places like Greenville are poised for bigger and more plentiful opportunities for business owners.
This week’s panel, Tourism and the Intersection of Economic Development, addressed the opportunities and challenges that arise in a city characterized by growth. Hosted by VisitGreenvilleSC and moderated by Jordon Construction Company President James Jordon, the panel featured some of the city and state’s heavy hitters: VisitGreenvilleSC President & CEO Heath Dillard, Greenville Chamber President & CEO Carlos Phillips, Greenville Area Development Corp. President & CEO Mark Farris and South Carolina Deputy Secretary of Commerce Ashely Teasdel.
If you missed this fascinating talk, here are some of the key take-aways:
Keep Greenville’s Charm
As more investment flows into our city, Farris encourages the community to not forget what makes Greenville unique and to not let the city’s character be defined by large corporations. He recalled visiting Nashville, Tenn., another Southern city that’s seen remarkable growth in the past years, and seeing a gleaming two-story, glass-façade Apple store towering over remnants of the “old Nashville” that draws visitors from around the world.
Why Greenville? You Have to be Here to Understand
Many American cities, including ones that dwarf Greenville in size and investments, are losing people. Others with stable or rising populations are still seeing residents move away for better life and opportunity. So why are people leaving cities like Charlotte, N.C. or San Francisco, Calif.? And why are so many people coming here? VisitGreenvilleSC’s Dillard says you have to be here to truly understand.
“I spent the last 17 years living in Charlotte, the last ten working for Charlotte’s tourism organization, and found myself wondering why we were losing in some degree to Greenville. You really don’t quite understand until you’re here and you can experience it for yourself. … We have really nice, friendly people. Not that Charlotte didn’t, but there’s a distinct difference. When people come, they feel that distinct sense of place. People come to an environment that’s clean, beautiful and safe.” — Heath Dillard, VisitGreenvilleSC
Celebrate South Carolina’s Record-breaking 2022
It’s also key to look at Greenville’s business environment in the context of larger trends in the state. Ashely Teasdel noted that South Carolina saw an incredible amount of investment last year.
“We broke two records last year in the state in terms of total economic development. We had 120 project wins and we broke the record of $10.27 billion in capital investment, which we’ve never seen before.” — Ashely Teasdel, South Carolina Deputy Secretary of Commerce
Greenville County will have 220,000 more People by 2040
This is an astonishing fact, one that means a lot is going to change in Greenville. Phillips had the right mindset in looking at the road ahead for us: