Opportunity Greenville took place this past month, and I had the chance to be apart of the class. Let me back up a bit for those of you who are newbies to the Upstate (like me) and are reading this wondering what Opportunity Greenville is. The five-course concept is designed for people of all ages that work in and around the Greenville community to come together and learn all about this town we call home. Each session is led by two groups of expert panelists with categories that range from healthcare to arts and entertainment to the history of our beautiful downtown.
While Opportunity Greenville is a great approach to connect and get more involved within the community, the course is also a way to network with professionals from around the Upstate. Since I went into this not knowing what this class would entail, I wanted to share some insight on what I gained in my experience with Opportunity Greenville.
The first session touched on the past, present, and future of Greenville. Being the history nerd that I am, I was fascinated to learn that the city was once a hub for textile mills in the early 1900s. Greenville was even deemed the “Textile Center of the South.” I was also shocked to find some of the mills were still standing today — no longer producing textiles, but have been turned into loft apartments (millennials am I right?). The class also gained insight from one of the organizers for the Remember Old Hickory Project, Don Koonce, who told the history of Greenville’s connection to World War I and the troops that trained at Camp Sevier. These soldiers would go on to break through the Hindenburg Line ultimately leading to the end of WWI.
Exploring the history of Greenville and learning that the Liberty Bridge used to be a road was a great way to kick-off the first class. We also gained insight from the Visit Greenville SC marketing manager, Lesley Craddock, on how #yeahthatgreenville was created plus how the team keeps Greenville, SC on everyone’s mind when choosing their next vacation destination. Craddock and her team have had a hand in marketing Greenville as a “foodie city” as well as spreading the word in publications such as Southern Living and The New York Times (talk about good publicity).
After session one, the classes after went on to talk about healthcare, government, and education around the Upstate to give us a sense of awareness as to what goes on in our county on a daily basis. The last session was held at a place I haven’t stopped hearing about since I moved here, The Lazy Goat, and the discussion was food (aka everyone’s favorite topic). As stated earlier, Greenville has been marketed fairly well as a foodies paradise (I mean there are over 100 restaurants on Main Street ALONE). To give our class some knowledge on how Greenville’s culinary scene has changed were two representatives from Table 301 Catering.
The business started more than 20 years ago and has been going strong ever since. With 11 restaurants and more on the way, Kim Eades, Director of Sales and Rodney Freidank, Corporate Chef at five of the eleven restaurants, gave our class insight of how Table 301 tries to always keep their restaurants relevant and the food fresh. The two also answered the question of if the company would ever try and branch out of South Carolina and the answer, “there is something in Greenville that just works.”
While I could probably go on and on about everything I learned in each session, I will leave you with just a little sample. I highly recommend applying for Opportunity Greenville if you are new to the area or have lived here your entire life. I guarantee you will gain a plethora of knowledge and a new network of people!