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Local leaders share perspectives on conservation and economic development

November 15th, 2022

The latest issue of the Upstate Advocate explores the possibility of finding balance between conservation and economic development as the Upstate grows at a remarkable pace.

In addition to sharing insights from Upstate Forever's staff of experts, we spoke with business and community leaders from across the region about the importance of balancing growth with other community priorities, such as ample green space, clean water, affordable housing, mobility options, and more equitable outcomes for all Upstate residents. Here's what they had to say... 


ScanSource has been headquartered in Greenville for 30 years. Throughout this time, we have seen the incredible growth of business and industry; the amazing development of new communities; and the influx of talent, residents and much national attention.

I believe a key factor in the Upstate's success is our continued focus on driving sustainability and protecting the beautiful resources we are so fortunate to have access to in the Upstate. Striking that delicate balance between the creation of new jobs, innovation, and a higher standard of living, while also safeguarding our natural resources and the beauty of the region, makes the Upstate unique and a highly desirable region in which to live and work."

– MIKE BAUR, CEO OF SCANSOURCE


"Sustain SC connects sustainability leaders from South Carolina-based companies together with leaders from the government, conservation and business sectors. Collaboration is crucial in order to make meaningful progress as it relates to sustainability goals. Real change happens at the local level and building relationships makes it possible.

There are over 1,200 international companies in the Palmetto State, and many of these companies are committed to admirable goals — including net-zero, water positive, and zero waste ambitions. There’s a wealth of information to leverage, but when it comes to aligning priorities, it boils down to getting people in the same room. We help set the table for conversations between businesses and local stakeholders so that sustainability investments stay in SC — benefiting both our economic and natural resource infrastructures."

– ETHEL BUNCH, FOUNDER AND CEO OF SUSTAIN SC


"My mama always said 'children need to get their peck of dirt,' which means they need to get out and get dirty and play, enjoy the fresh air, learn about nature, dig for worms, and play with butterflies.

Children like to explore, and they need to have that opportunity to explore for their development. This December, the Self Family Foundation will celebrate 80 years of grant making in Greenwood. The funding has extended to all areas of life in the community — from health care to parks to trails to education. As we grow, the foundation continues to be at the center of what’s happening in Greenwood to help make it better"

– MAMIE NICHOLSON, PRESIDENT OF SELF FAMILY FOUNDATION


“A key component of economic development is quality of life, and the Upstate’s incredible natural beauty and outdoor recreational assets make us a destination that companies and people want to move to and experience.

Regions that exhibit a balance between growth and protection of natural resources are more competitive. Talent attraction and retention are vital for our region’s economic future, and we need to ensure that we are a place that values and preserves our natural resources and assets for future generations if we are to secure our long term economic vitality."

– JOHN LUMMUS, PRESIDENT & CEO OF UPSTATE SC ALLIANCE


"Greenspaces and natural resources have a dramatic effect on economic development and growth because they provide a place for communities to come together.

My hope is that, by creating more natural spaces for the citizens of Spartanburg to get outside, we will spur continual development, combat homelessness, and reduce crime. It helps make our beautiful city one in which all neighborhoods feel safe and promotes a sense of opportunity for all."

– JEFF TILLERSON, CITY OF SPARTANBURG SENIOR CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER & UF BOARD MEMBER


"The City of Anderson is experiencing its most significant growth pattern in more than 50 years. A key to sustainable growth is being mindful of our natural resources with a view toward the long term.

We've created new parks like Church Street Plaza and North Main Commons while investing in significant upgrades to existing greenspaces like Linley Park. We have parts of an interconnected trail system in place with plans for completion on the drawing board as an element of our mobility and health strategy.

Equitable outcomes should be at the forefront of the process. This is imperative to be able to offer the types of amenities that move us toward our aspirational goal of being the most desirable city in the region." 

– TERENCE ROBERTS, CITY OF ANDERSON MAYOR


"One of the defining and indelible things that came out of the pandemic is the absolute need for local and regional destinations. Nature, adventure and all manner of outdoor pursuits need to be close by and accessible to all.

At Half Moon Outfitters, our internal mission statement is 'Our product is your experience.' Protecting habitat, and having access to pristine natural areas is essential to Half Moon and opens the door to having a great experience in the great outdoors." 

– BEEZER MOLTEN, FOUNDER OF HALF MOON OUTFITTERS


"The abundance of natural resources and pristine wilderness in Upstate South Carolina is a BIG factor in its recent popularity and growth.

World-renowned wilderness areas, our vast network of lakes and waterways, and the SC State Park system create a well-protected yet accessible avenue for people to experience the beautiful landscapes that make up South Carolina's Upstate.

Responsible stewardship and management of these resources will ensure they act as a draw for the area in terms of economics and quality of life in the future."

– ERIC MILLS, SUNRIFT ADVENTURES


This is an excerpt from the Fall/Winter 2022-2023 issue of the Upstate Advocate, Upstate Forever's twice-yearly publication. To read a digital copy of the complete publication, please click here.

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