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100+ Upstate leaders got on a bus...

gvl at night

Photo credit: @jaycaps

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This past September, leaders, influencers, and developers from Greenville + Spartanburg met with the movers and shakers of Raleigh-Durham to better understand how two cities can develop a mutually beneficial relationship that leads to economic success.

The focus of this Intercommunity Leadership Visit was to share ideas + learn about: regional collaboration; strategic development and infrastructure; innovation and entrepreneurship; and workforce and talent.

Need more info? Here’s a refresher.

We rounded up some takeaways from attendees, who have the ability to play a part in the development of Greenville-Spartanburg as an economic powerhouse (a huge thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts):

“Greenville and Spartanburg can maintain their uniqueness, but can be so much stronger if we leverage each other and go together.” - Mike Coggin, South State Bank

“A key to the Triangle’s success was to identify core strengths- strong research institutions, deep agricultural roots, great healthcare systems- and to capitalize on these strengths to foster a true hub of technology and life sciences. A culmination of this effort- Research Triangle Park- is now reinventing itself. Through deliberations over zoning, mass transit, expanded beneficiaries, etc., RTP is striving to re-think the model so as to continue to attract new talent and foster the next generation of scientific advancements. How can the Upstate capitalize on our strengths, engage our own academic institutions, and look out ten years to build our most promising industry niches?” - Courtney Warren, Consultant, Property & Casualty Division, Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC (Known locally as Rosenfeld Einstein)

“Much to be learned from these communities coming together. I think the experience as a whole helped initiate conversations of increased local collaboration and partnership.” - Linda S. Hannon, District Manager, Government and Community Relations, Duke Energy

“NC State, Duke, etc., continue to shape the economy of the region even more than I realized. Universities increasingly play a leading role in attracting top talent and companies. They also play a big role in projecting the region’s common identity.” - Mayor Knox H. White

“My take away is that Greenville and Spartanburg are on the right track. In 140 characters or less, I’ll paraphrase one of the speakers, ‘You don’t need to collaborate on everything. But you need to make sure you’re moving in the same direction and collaborating on the big things.’” - Stephen Ross, Director of Business Development, Sherman Construction

“Communities who invest in intellectual capital and innovation will own the future. If we want the Upstate to own the future, the time to invest is now.” - Josh Lonon, Wyche

“Regionalism is about moving in the same direction not always doing it together, but helping each other do it successfully by cooperating. We are winning together. "- Jennifer Evins, President & CEO, Chapman Cultural Center

“Regional Collaboration doesn’t mean you have to do everything together. It means creating a collective vision and goals for how to address cross-jurisdiction and cross-sector issues and then identifying individual actions that move towards achieving the shared vision.” - Dean Hybl, Executive Director, Ten at the Top

“We need to focus less on competing with one another and more on creating success for our entire region. RDU’s “Triangle-first” mentality is producing strong results that will be hard to rival without regional collaboration.” - Robert Hughes, Hughes Development Corporation

“Regional collaboration is like a table, with each community’s level interest as a leg. Only when they are the same height, does the table function well.” - Hank Hyatt, Greenville Chamber

“The recent intercommunity leadership visit to Raleigh-Durham was a great opportunity for leadership from the Greenville and Spartanburg communities to come together to discuss how we can be more effective as a region. I was most impressed with the entrepreneurial ecosystem that Durham has built specifically focusing on growing minority and women-owned businesses. In the last three years we discovered that the American Underground (Durham’s co-work space) has created 2,000 jobs and 48% of the startups were minority or women-owned. In Spartanburg, we notice that our diversity is our strength and I believe that our community can learn from Durham’s success.” - Todd Horne, Vice President of Business Development, Clayton Construction

“The great Raleigh Durham Connector was Research Triangle Park. We need to look for something to more closely connect Greenville and Spartanburg.” - George Fletcher

“The Raleigh-Durham inter-community visit hosted by the Greenville and Spartanburg Chambers far exceeded my expectations. As we continue to grow and thrive in the Upstate, regional collaboration will be key to our success. The synergy from established and new business owners and partners in attendance set the tone for an extraordinary experience. Raleigh-Durham’s cutting-edge innovation as it relates to small business development and incubation projects such as the American Underground reports of thriving businesses including 48% being diverse and inclusive. As we re-imagine the Upstate as a regional economic hub, the connectivity and economic impact achieved in Raleigh-Durham should be benchmarked. - James D. Jordon, President, Jordon Construction Company

“Regionalism is about moving in the same direction not always doing it together, but helping each other do it successfully by cooperating. We are winning together. People select a place as #1 then educational opportunities and then diversity of offerings for a healthy lifestyle. Greenville-Spartanburg is an amazingly unique place with extraordinary educational opportunities and very diverse offerings, but how do we create a narrative together that tells the story to attract talent to our communities? Raleigh Durham economic development approach is Region 1st, County 2nd and site for new business 3rd. They cooperate even when competing.
Interesting Challenge to our Cities – work in your city without a car for a week - can it be done?
What are our unique “Centers of Excellence” in Greenville and Spartanburg?
Can we do a labor study together Greenville & Spartanburg Counties? If we tackle this labor crisis together, we will achieve more in talent retention and talent recruitment.
Raleigh has a downtown retail plan so that they will stay in balance. They have a policy to engage authentic retailers and they are selective.
Raleigh has also been strategic to include affordable housing in their downtown master planning.
Upward Economic Mobility in the south is critical to our success in every aspect of our work and life together. We need a common vision for more individuals to thrive and it will require organizations engaged with the target population to lead and local businesses to be engaged.” - Jennifer Evins, President & CEO, Chapman Cultural Center

“A couple of “take-aways” for me: The success of the Raleigh-Durham area demonstrates the sheer economic firepower of universities. NC State, Duke, etc continue to shape the economy of the region even more than I realized. Universities increasingly play a leading role in attracting top talent and companies. They also play a big role in projecting the region’s common identity. Also, R/D is a good measure for Greenville since we are “bigger” than Durham and “smaller” than Raleigh. In Raleigh, growth issues, from traffic to housing costs, are foremost in people’s minds. They are approaching these in a similar form to Greenville- they are even building a huge new park near downtown. Raleigh has discovered the “code” for a successful downtown (residential in the mix, walkable streets) and puts a premium on “quality of life” amenities. Finally, R and D share a common economy and identity to the outside world…..but are distinctly different cities in look and style. And that’s a good thing! - Knox H. White | Attorney | Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A.

“As we learned from Jim Goodman, it’s all about being regional first and not being provincial; however, “collabetition” is actually good thing. We can collaborate and compete at the same time. It actually produces the best results for all. So, let’s focus our efforts on making Greenville-Spartanburg a great place to live, work and play. And as a higher education administrator, I am committed to discovering ways to make our U2B relationships even stronger. Higher education is the key to workforce development and economic success.”-Brad Bechtold, Furman

“This trip was jointly sponsored by the Greenville and Spartanburg Chambers. A stated purpose of this trip was to help build a foundation for regional collaboration. What benefits Greenville benefits Spartanburg. Let’s get serious about collaboration. #GSP2GETHER. " - Phillip A. Kilgore | Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Being my first ILV, I didn’t have a true barometer to gauge any expectation. However, I was blown away with the amount of collaboration the Triangle has from civic leaders, public and private partnerships, grade school up to higher education, and business leaders throughout the area. There were many takeaways that I believe will inspire and promote change within our Upstate community. It is now up to us as a collective group to make some S.M.A.R.T goals as a region and push forward to evolve into something great”. - Ken Cummings, MBA Vice President, Commercial Banking Relationship Manager – GSAC (Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville/Columbia) Region, SunTrust Bank

“I thought bringing the Greenville and Spartanburg leaders together to enhance those relationships while learning about the collaborative efforts of Raleigh-Durham was very meaningful.” - Alex Powell, Johnson Development Associates, Inc.

“Durham has been completely transformed itself in about 10 years and is now positioned as a global leader for software & biomedical ventures by focusing on knowledge-based startups and the talent they need.” - John Moore, NEXT

Here are some additional, anonymous comments from a Greenville Chamber survey:

  • An amazing experience with such a diverse group of leaders that bonded through this trip
  • R and D share common economy and brand identity but each retains a distinctive personality
  • Great visit to Raleigh/Durham. Greenville/Spartanburg; two cities with lots to offer one another.
  • excellent speakers and programming- let’s identify our unique skills as a region and collaborate
  • Wonderful trip! Many opportunities for us to leverage the collective strengths of The Upstate for everyone’s benefit. #GSP2RDU
  • GSP Chambers come together to create alliances to grow together.
  • Excellent trip and I learned a lot about the great initiatives that were taken and the ones that will be taken to make the region more prosperous and attractive to businesses and people.
  • GSP - more in common than not - let’s grow together
  • Great experience allowing for new relationships & learning while building upon current relationships & learning!
  • Regionalism reins and Gvl/ Spa have experienced success stories and need start collaborating.
  • We’ve had a lot of growth in the Upstate and growth is great unless we are no longer finding it to be the appropriate type of growth for what we want our communities to be in the future.
  • Great trip with great people pursuing a better tomorrow for SC..... now, how do we find or build our own Citrix?
  • The intercommunity visit was enlightening for a dual city focus
  • An amazing opportunity to connect with leaders across business sectors to address regional issues.
  • Greenville/Spartanburg leaders see firsthand from the Research Triangle how we can go further as communities, TOGETHER.
  • Dynamic long-term vision on regional transportation. What do we need? Who are our models?
  • The Triangle Area is impressive and has much to be proud of, but the SC Upstate has assets no one else can offer. Together we have the potential to start and grow world-class businesses like no one else can.
  • Great time meeting new people from our sister city! Loved the Policy luncheon and speakers. Looking forward to the “collabotetion”!
  • We can learn much about regional cooperation and the innovation economy from the Triangle.
  • “Collabetion” is not only healthy but necessary. Maintaining an identity while promoting regionalism= success.
  • Visit was informative and fun
  • Citrix
  • Collabetition
  • Greenville and Spartanburg need to focus on raising their levels of intellectual capital to compete in the global marketplace.
  • Build Relationships through networking, Collaboration
  • Creepy art is a bonding experience. #GSP2RDU
  • Great takeaways from the Intercommunity Leadership Confererence
  • Phenomenal time in Raleigh-Durham with the Greenville and Spartanburg Chambers. Good information and great connections.
  • I don’t tweet and would not know where to begin
  • Great collaborative trip to RDU with GSP leaders.
  • Building a Collaborative Upstate is a Continuous Effort
  • I got to see a new perspective on regional growth, and am excited about all the things we do right!
  • “Hyphenated communities are like a family w/ different personalities” & sometimes the best bonding happens over cocktails #GSP2RDU
  • By just about every measure, RDU is ahead of GSP. We have a lot of work to do, and there’s no better time than now to begin...together.
  • Great collaboration intercity visit with Greenville and Spartanburg chambers to see the best of Raleigh Durham
  • GSP2RDU our communities can go farther together
  • ILV provides new frame of reference for old issues.
  • Huge potential for Upstate SC- we have the leadership to get to the next level #GSP2RDU
  • I don’t tweet But something like...Want to learn more about our Chamber and our elected officials....come visit Raleigh Durham eith us...you will learn something, meet some nice people, and have a good time!
  • Connections and Conversations that will move our region forward.
  • The world comes together for those who strategically connect the dots.
  • Chamber staff gives110% to make #GSP2RDU a success
  • We can go farther together
  • Great and informative