Sponsors clustered at candle-bedecked tables on Fluor Field. Business leaders took a glance to see if their cohort had the “no-go” red or the gregarious green wristband before closing in for the handshake or the shoulder pat. Baps and prosciutto tarts lay in individually-packaged rows for the taking.
The Greenville Chamber’s first annual meeting since the coronavirus came on the heels of its 131st in 2020 and walked a line between awareness of COVID-19’s blow to the Upstate business community and its future economic growth.
“Over the next 20 years, more than 220,000 people are projected to relocate to Greenville, representing a 40% population increase,” Carlos Phillips, Greenville Chamber CEO and president, said at the event. “That equates to 1,000 new people per month moving to Greenville over the next 20 years. This kind of exponential growth is a challenging proposition, but it’s also an incredible opportunity for each of us right here tonight.”
The event program began at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 14 and was followed by a networking reception under the awning of the Greenville Drive stadium at 6:45 p.m.
“We need to think bigger about our growing infrastructure needs including sewer, broadband, water, roads, natural gas, transit and the other human services,” Phillips said. “And we must propose short-sighted, reflexive proposals, such as the countywide growth moratorium currently on the table.”
Award-winners from the night included:
- High Spirits Hospitality, owned and operated by Tammy Johnson, was presented with the 2020 Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by the Bank of Travelers Rest.
- Paveway Express Ltd Co., led by Justin Jenkins, was recognized as the Minority Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Bank of America, for the company’s growth from one truck and driver to 50 drivers and staff members over four years.
- Jane Robelot DeCarvalho, anchor with WYFF4 and event MC, received the Athena Leadership Award, sponsored by the Hughes Agency. The award honors individuals who assist women in reaching their full potential as community and business leaders.
- Craig Brown, owner and president of the Greenville Drive baseball team, was presented the Buck Mickel Leadership Award for his leadership in local development projects and tackling critical community issues.
- Cal Hurst, chief banking officer at Southern First Bank, was presented with the 2020 Chairman’s Award, sponsored by Ogletree Deakins, for his service on the Greenville Chamber board.
- William Brown, founder and board chair of Legacy Early College, was honored with the F. Ben Haskew Collaboration Award, sponsored by Furman University, for his progressive vision for responsible growth in the Upstate.
- Catriona Carlisle, executive director of Meals on Wheels in Greenville, was recognized with the Leadership Greenville Distinguished Alumni Award, sponsored by Prisma Health, for her civic and community contributions.
- Autumn Shearin of Harvest Hope Food Bank, received the Max Heller Neighborhood Improvement Award, sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, for her work in improving neighborhoods in Greenville County and empowering their residents.
- Casey Minor, assistant controller at Furman University, was given the Young Professional of the Year Award, for her philanthropic engagement and service to the chamber’s Young Professionals initiative.
- Cassy Electric and Greenville Area Parkinson Society were finalists for the Small Business of the Year Award.