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Book of Experts: Greenville Chamber leads area into the future

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Carlos Phillips, president and CEO, Greenville Chamber

For more than 130 years, the Greenville Chamber set bold visions for Greenville’s future and rallied the community to meet these challenges. In 2009, business leaders formed Accelerate, the Greenville Chamber’s private sector fueled economic development initiative, as the conduit through which much of today’s transformative, economic development work is done.

PhillipsThis summer, Accelerate unveiled its new direction in its pursuit of “Growing a Greater Greenville.” New to the program’s list of priorities is increasing educational attainment for working adults ages 25-64. Increasing education attainment will be the foundation of Accelerate’s work by implementing a Lumina Foundation-informed initiative to ensure that 60% of 25 to 64-year-olds have a high-quality, post-secondary credential or degree.

As of the Lumina Foundation’s latest “Stronger Nation” report in 2019, Greenville stands at 49.5% in high-quality, post-secondary credential or degree attainment among working age adults. “This new direction will provide a North Star for increasing economic activity in our community,” Greenville Chamber President/CEO Carlos Phillips said.

Meaningful credentials lead to better career opportunities, higher paying jobs, and greater opportunities for prosperity for all. For Greenville to compete with peer metro areas across the nation, enhancing opportunity to these types of opportunities is essential. Dr. Cheryl Garrison, Greenville Chamber’s Director of Talent and Workforce Solutions, is leading much of this critically important work. Success in meeting this lofty goal will be heavily dependent upon convening the many non-profit, economic development, private-sector and education partners performing work under the same umbrella. “For us to be successful, it will require a comprehensive approach with cross-sector partners moving forward in lockstep towards a common goal,” Garrison said.

The economic impact potential that education provides will not only radically enhance the quality of life in our community but will help Greenville more effectively succeed in the globally competitive environment. It is essential that the workforce is prepared for high-wage, high-demand and high-skill career opportunities. High-quality credentials and degrees serve as an essential launching pad for these opportunities.

Another key element in successfully implementing this strategy moving forward will be raising awareness of these needs throughout the employer and workforce communities. Building bridges between the employer community’s needs and driving potential talent to the training needed will play a pivotal role in filling these gaps. This alignment between job-ready professionals and industry needs will better position Greenville for the future.

“With our business community’s support, this new strategy will usher in another decade of vibrant growth and prosperity for the Greenville area,” Phillips said.

This content first appeared in the GSA Business Report Book of Experts.

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