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Greenville's new economic development initiative adds advisor, maps progress

Greenville City Manager John McDonough

Greenville City Manager John McDonough gives remarks during the city's economic development initiative launch on Sept. 2, 2021. Stephanie Mirah/staff 

GREENVILLE — The city of Greenville is in the early stages of working with an economic development advisor to iron out its long-term plan to position the area as a place for entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses.

Resonance is an advisor on economic development, real estate and tourism that has aided cities like Tulsa, Okla., and Houston, Texas, in creating economic and destination development strategies.

Greenville has joined that charge.

In September 2021, the city unveiled its preliminary plans for an economic development initiative titled "From Here You Can Change The World." The campaign emphasizes Greenville’s business resources and local success stories on a local and national level.

At a City Council meeting on Jan. 10, Director of Economic Development for the city Merle Johnson told the council that his team had its first meeting with Resonance representatives to "ensure that their scope of work is in line with what we had asked for, and then get them to sign our standard agreement."

Johnson said that the "first homework" his team received from the advisors was to form a steering committee, which typically is a group that advises an organization and ensures the completion of projects.

"We're currently putting together our recommendation and we'll be sending that to the city manager to get his approval prior to implementation," Johnson told the council in regards to the committee.

The advisor suggested the city focus on six areas: economic clustering to include the creation of "innovation districts;" support for small business and entrepreneurship; rise of talent economy; destination development; retention, expansion and redevelopment; and STEM.

The city made one of its first initiative-related announcements in early December 2021 with a cancer diagnostics company moving into 2 N. Main St. in Greenville. This announcement aligns with the first intended focus area, economic clustering, as Kiyatec is the first anchor company in the city's "innovation district."

Greenville’s strengths, according to the advisor, are its export economy, anchor institutions — such as Clemson University, CU-ICAR, USC School of Medicine and Greenville Tech — private sector and talent attraction.

As of right now, its greatest challenges are its growing economic divide, exacerbated by the pandemic, and growth problems related to housing affordability, land use, hotel occupancy and mobility.

The advisor recommended that the plan for Greenville should align with the vision of the city's long-term goals, reaching out to 2040. It also encouraged collaboration and input from residents, businesses and elected officials.

The advisor will also create an implementation plan for the city that includes staffing, resourcing, phased approaches, roles for partners and metrics.

The project phases will span over the year and include:

  • January: development of project work plan and consultation strategy
  • February to March: demographic and economic assessment
  • April to June: stakeholder and public engagement
  • July to August: strategic plan development and implementation

"We've also included an opportunity for the consultants to return in one year to give us an assessment of the strategy and the outcomes," Johnson said.

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Follow Stephanie Mirah on Twitter @stephaniemirah

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