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Spartanburg development groups unite, unveil awards

Molly Hulsey //September 1, 2020//

Spartanburg development groups unite, unveil awards

Molly Hulsey //September 1, 2020//

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Takeysha Foster, a registered nurse at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, represented all healthcare workers who received the Neville Holcome Distinguished Citizenship Award. (Photo/Provided)

By the time the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce closed its 2020 Annual Celebration, it no longer existed.

Now called the OneSpartanburg Inc., the newly structured and focused organization includes the Spartanburg Convention & Visitors Bureau and Spartanburg Economic Futures Group.

The unified development entity has been dubbed OneSpartanburg Inc., and according to Allen Smith, CEO of the new group, has been more than a year in the making.

The three groups, along with the city’s development organization, have already been operating under one umbrella for some time as the “the only set up of its kind in South Carolina,” but Smith expects the fusion to of the three groups to allow for a more streamlined, collaborative approach to business, tourism and economic development in the county.

“About 18 months ago, we said, ‘We’ve got something good, but we want to make it better. We want to bring higher efficiency to what we do, and we want to create one organization that’s centered around one thing and that’s development,’” Smith told GSA Business Report.

A number of chamber organizations across the country are seeking to consolidate resources and rebrand, thanks to adjustments brought on by COVID-19, but plans for OneSpartanburg Inc. were formulated long before the pandemic, he said.

The past year has been spent preparing for the shift.

Staffing has been restructured to support the three groups under one centralized mission support group, Smith said, and no staff members were laid off in the process.

“This is much more efficient, much more effective, and it also gives our business community and our investors, stakeholders, a much stronger return on investment and makes it much more inclusive,” said John Kimbrell, executive vice president of Spartanburg’s chamber team.

During the virtual event, hosted today from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on YouTube and Facebook Live, Smith spotlighted the county’s retail, residential and economic development growth despite economic upheaval across the country.

“Economic development continues to be Spartanburg’s bread and butter with more than $354 million in economic development coming into our county next year. That capped off an incredible decade that saw more than $6 billion invested, creating nearly 15,000 jobs across Spartanburg County,” said Smith, adding that the county had fielded more project requests in the first two quarters of 2020 than during the same period in 2019.

Almost 850 building permits were granted in June alone, while 1,500 multi-family residential units are under construction or in the pipeline within the city.

The awards ceremony recognized 24 business and community leaders with the following honors:

  • Spartanburg’s frontline health care workers were honored with the event’s highest honor, the Neville Holcome Distinguished Citizenship Award for their work during the pandemic.
  • Lanie Whitaker, owner of Arrowhead Design Co., and her partners, Jamie Woodruff and Ima Ortega, were offered the James B. Thompson Small Business of the Year Award for the BURG branding initiatives and service to local businesses
  • The Economic Futures Award was granted to Contec Inc. for its production of COVID-19 cleaning supplies during the pandemic.
  • Sam Shanbhag, owner of Pinnacle Hospitality, received the Elaine Harris Tourism Person of the Year award for his investments in the county’s tourism economy
  • Eric Cook, branch manager of Job Impulse, was dubbed Ambassador of the Year for serving as a nexus for local business networking and resources
  • Spartanburg County Councilor David Britt and Kay Woodward, owner of J.W. Woodward Funeral Home, were congratulated for their work as co-chairs of the Bringing Back the ‘Burg Business Recovery Task Force with the Chairman’s Award
  • The Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award was granted to S.C. House Reps. Mike Forrester and Eddie Tallon and retired S.C. House Rep. Derham Cole.
  • Araceli Hernandez-Laroche, assistant chair of USC Upstate’s language, literature and composition department, was named the inclusion advocate of the year.
  • Police Chief Alonzo Thompson was presented with the Unsung Hero Award by the Leadership Spartanburg Alumni Association for his dedication to community leadership and building trust between police officers and residents
  • Clevedale Inn & Historic Gardens owners Pontheolla and Paul Abernathy were named the Minority-Owned Business Persons of the Year for their efforts to bolster the county’s tourism economy.
  • The Young Professional of the Year, Leadership Spartanburg Alumnus of the Year award was granted to Cal Wicker, commercial lending specialist with Truist Bank, for his community involvement.

Teachers of the year included:

  • Katie Darby, Inman Elementary School
  • Emily Wilkins, Chesnee Elementary School
  • Melanie Cecil, Cannons Elementary School
  • Ashley Bennett, Woodruff Middle School
  • Carrie Potter, Lyman Elementary
  • Allie Thrower, Jesse Bobo Elementary School
  • Crystal Weathers, EP Todd Elementary School
  • Julia Wittschen-Price, S.C. School for the Deaf and the Blind
  • Paige Phillips, Spartanburg Day School
  • Mellissa Brown, Heidi Boyd and Andreau Green, High Point Academy
  • Lauren Mason, Spartanburg Preparatory School