Posted by | CDS

austin ilv2

by Dana McConnell, CDS Executive Director

I had the privilege of attending the Greenville Chamber of Commerce ILV last week in Austin, Texas.  The ILV is an Intercommunity Leadership Visit where several leaders in our community visit another city to learn how they have addressed similar issues regarding growth, business development, and talent recruitment.

The Chamber has organized other ILV trips in the past to places such as Pittsburgh, PA and Ireland, and each trip has provided an in-depth insight into what makes their community unique.  Austin was selected this time because they are experiencing tremendous population growth, much like Greenville. They have had to work through the challenges that also come with growth, like infrastructure, mobility, and affordability.  We wanted to explore how Austin continues to be so successful, while at the same time keeping its authentic character.

During the 3-day visit, my personal goal was to learn more about obstacles surrounding families with disabilities.  How has innovation, entrepreneurship, and talent recruitment shaped the landscape for those seeking employment?  What modifications have been introduced to building designs?  What policies are being implemented to keep urban living affordable?

Those answers were found among the passionate leaders in Austin as well as within our innovative leaders back home.  For talent recruitment, the Upstate is already making strides with employment.  The Walgreens Distribution Center in Anderson, SC is a wonderful example of training our under-utilized disability workforce.  In addition, the Greenville CAN initiative has an employment workgroup with plans to hold seminars for local business leaders.   Regarding building design, Austin has taken a creative approach that incorporates millennial, wellness, eco-friendly, and disability needs into active work spaces.  They also require that all new housing projects designate 25% of their units as affordable for those on a limited budget, such as teachers.

Greenville is a collaborative community, and not all cities can say that.  We are truly fortunate to have community leaders, businesses, and residents willing to discuss issues openly and work together for resolution.  This collaboration is our key ingredient for successful growth.

Growth is inevitable in the Upstate.  We can either prepare for it, or react to it.  Let’s choose to be prepared and welcome it.