Entrepreneurs, Founders Prominent Among New Economic Development Board

New appointees to the Greenville City Economic Development Corporation (GCEDC) board include several active members of the #StartupGVL ecosystem.

Greenville City Council approved the appointment of six members of the city’s new 501 (c)3 economic development corporation during their regular monthly meeting January 22. Appointees are Jeanette Brewster, Matthew Gevaert, Melanie Faith Paddock, Gary L. Daniels, Jr., Shontavia Johnson, Esq., and Stephen P. Navarro.

Brewster, Gevaert, Paddock and Johnson are all entrepreneurs and work for or with entrepreneurial service organizations that make up a vital part of the #StartupGVL ecosystem. Each brings a unique perspective of the growing startup community in Greenville, and compliments a major part of the City’s Economic Development Strategic Plan, which aims to “bring Greenville entrepreneurs, innovators and investors together in a best-in-class entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Brewster currently serves as program director of Village Launch – part of Mill Village Ministries – whose mission is to equip women and minority entrepreneurs with needed resources to grow their businesses and communities. Brewster, herself an entrepreneur, has served as program director since December 2019.

Gevaert is founder of Kiyatec, a functional precision oncology company working to improve cancer diagnosis, and currently serves as a member of the company’s Board of Directors.  A graduate of Clemson University, Gevaert immigrated to the US from his native Canada and began Kiyatec, which has been recognized as one of the fastest-growing startups in the #StartupGVL and all of South Carolina.

Paddock is owner of the contemporary women’s clothing store AugustaTwenty, which has been operating in the city’s West End for over 20 years. The company signed a lease near the end of 2023 to take over 201 Augusta St., and finished the year with over $2 million in retail sales.

Johnson is Associate Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Clemson University, currently serving on the boards of NEXT, SCBio and the Village Launch Catalytic Fund, all active parts of the #StartupGVL ecosystem. The Clemson MBA in Entrepreneurship & Innovation (MBAe) is a unique program designed to cultivate student’s entrepreneurial visions to bear.

Other board appointees included Gary L. Daniels, Jr., who brings 15 years of banking experience as well as having served on multiple economic development boards over the years. Daniels currently works with PNC Bank as Senior Vice President of Relationship Manager.

Stephen P. Navarro is president and CEO of The Furman Company, a real estate development group headquartered in Greenville.

Greenville City Council approved the creation of a new economic development arm in June of 2023. Under its new auspices, the GCEDC will be a 501(c)3 with its own board of directors and the ability to raise private funding, much like other economic development organizations around the country.

The GCEDC will carry out the City’s Economic Development Strategic Plan, which was finalized and adopted in 2022. Staff in the City’s Economic Development Department were transitioned to the new entity, bringing their expertise and institutional knowledge to the organization.

The selection process of a president and CEO of GCEDC is currently underway.

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