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  • sam patrick posted an article
    Broadband pilot program for rural Greenwood could serve as model see more

    VisionGreenwood, an established community partner dedicated to making Greenwood the best place in which to live, work and raise a family, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the state agency housing the Office of Broadband Coordinator (SC Broadband Office) to establish a pilot program that will pave the way for bringing high-speed internet to underserved areas of Greenwood County. VisionGreenwood is responsible for providing marketing and coordination for the crowdsourcing system campaign in Greenwood and for facilitating the pilot program.

    The pilot program, which launched on December 15, 2021, will establish the viability of developing an analysis to aid in determining the best technology to provide affordable internet service in certain areas of Greenwood County that do not have access to broadband internet services exceeding 25 Mbps upload and 3 Mbps download speeds. The program will utilize crowdsource mapping methodology and analysis provided by GEO Partners, LLC, a consulting group which maps areas by telephonic, cable and broadband companies.

    “The past two years have only highlighted the need for fast and affordable broadband to rural communities. The purpose of this new pilot program is to combine the technologies and best practices of the SC Broadband Office and information provided by VisionGreenwood to create a broadband platform that results in enhanced analytics and analytical processes to support potential future grant applications. The program will also allow us to keep an eye on the future,” said Kay Self, Executive Director for VisionGreenwood.

    “Technologies like Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR), robotics, and artificial intelligence have grown exponentially over the past two years. As our society moves into Web 3.0 and these technologies merge to form the Metaverse, it is critical that Greenwood has access to the fastest speeds if we are going to thrive as a community in the economy of the very near future. Through our partnership with the South Carolina Broadband Office, what we are doing here in Greenwood is going to serve as a model for other rural communities across the state. Knowing that Greenwood will be the blueprint for the betterment of others makes this initiative extra exciting,” said Self.

    The SC Broadband Office, which serves as the central broadband planning body for the state to encourage the continued development of access to broadband, will hold monthly status meetings with the project delivery team to discuss work performed, issues encountered, and work planned for the coming year.

    “We are excited to work with VisionGreenwood and GEO Partners to encourage rapid broadband deployment in Greenwood County. Internet service is as essential as any other utility service such as water and power; quality internet service is a necessity for education, health care, and for those who work from home,” said Nanette S. Edwards, Executive Director, South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff. “Under the leadership of Senator Garrett – and with the support of Kay Self and VisionGreenwood – Greenwood County is well positioned for universal broadband service.”

    Early in 2021, VisionGreenwood established a dedicated Broadband Task Force to identify and seek solutions to Greenwood County’s 10 targeted areas of need. Real-time internet speed data is already being gathered from Greenwood residents through a speed test tool accessible from the VisionGreenwood website. The goal is to gather data in all areas of Greenwood County to pinpoint areas of the Greenwood community that are most in need of reliable, affordable access to broadband service.

    “The Greenwood County legislative delegation would like to thank Greenwood County Council Chairman Chuck Moates for continuing to support the Greenwood broadband initiative headed by Kay Self and VisionGreenwood in our united quest for countywide broadband internet coverage,” said South Carolina Senator Billy Garrett, who serves as Chairman of the Greenwood Broadband Task Force as well as the Greenwood County legislative delegation. “As promised, VisionGreenwood will be providing Greenwood County Council with six alternative methods to provide high-quality broadband coverage for the entirety of Greenwood County.”

    Senator Garrett elaborated, saying “Through the cooperative efforts of VisionGreenwood, GEO Partners, Nanette Edwards of South Carolina ORS, and Greenwood County Council, we will be well on our way to find and implement – with federal, state, local, and private dollars – a high-quality broadband system, both fixed and wireless, throughout Greenwood County. I hope our children will never again be without high-quality broadband coverage for use in school. This will be the future of Greenwood County.”

    “This local pilot program has so much potential to positively impact not only the Greenwood area, but also other parts of South Carolina,” said Paul Deming, CEO of Minnesota-based GEO Partners, LLC, which focuses on enabling cost-effective planning and deployment of broadband. “We are steadily making a difference in other regions too. GEO Partners is currently working with Minnesota, Washington, Maine, Kentucky, Nebraska, Nevada, Florida and Wisconsin, as well as the nationally designated Delta Regional Authority that covers parts of eight states along the Mississippi River.”

     

    About Vision Greenwood

    VisionGreenwood is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with deep roots in the Greenwood community. Throughout the past 20 years, VisionGreenwood (formerly known as the Foundation for a Greater Greenwood County, Inc.) has invested over $2.9 million into the community by supporting collaborative community development initiatives that provide economic prosperity and enhance the growth and success of Greenwood. The Foundation was originally created to support the former Greenwood Partnership Alliance’s charitable operations with a focus on community and workforce development. The Foundation became a stand-alone organization in 2020 and was rebranded as VisionGreenwood in 2021. By intent and design, VisionGreenwood continues to be a community partner that is focused on Greenwood’s future, its economic growth and development, and its quality of life. Learn more at www.visiongreenwood.org.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Greenwood's Kay Self leading efforts to advance Greenwood community see more

    The lack of reliable broadband service in parts of Greenwood became more apparent than ever this past year when schools and businesses quickly migrated to remote platforms with minimal time for in-depth planning, let alone infrastructure upgrades. Fortunately, help is on the horizon from VisionGreenwood, an established community partner dedicated to making Greenwood the best place in which to live, work and raise a family.

    Kay Self, Executive Director for VisionGreenwood, explained that the recently launched “Closing the Gap” Speed Test, which was developed by the nonprofit through a public-private collaboration, will be used to collect real-time internet speed data from Greenwood residents over the next four to six weeks. With data in hand, VisionGreenwood will be able to apply for state and federal grants to help fund local internet infrastructure improvements.

    “High-speed internet is no longer optional. It is critical for expanding educational and economic opportunities, especially for those in remote locations. By ensuring every Greenwood resident and business has access to broadband, we are positioning our community for success,” said Self.

    JIm Pfeiffer, VisionGreenwood’s Board Chairman and Self Regional Healthcare President and CEO, noted “For more than a year now, we’ve seen first-hand just how important broadband internet is to our students, to remote work, and to telemedicine availability. In response, VisionGreenwood developed a Broadband Task Force to make sure Greenwood stays ahead of the curve in this area. The goal is to expand broadband internet connectivity throughout the entire county.”

    Pfeiffer went on to say, “By mid-August, the Greenwood Broadband Task Force should have the necessary data to pinpoint areas that are in most need of reliable, affordable access to broadband service.”

    While the name VisionGreenwood may be new to Greenwood County and the Upstate, the 501(c)(3) organization is simply reintroducing itself. In fact, the newly rebranded organization has a rich history in Greenwood. VisionGreenwood evolved from the Foundation for a Greater Greenwood County, Inc., which was created more than 20 years ago to support the former Greenwood Partnership Alliance’s charitable operations with a focus on community and workforce development. Since its inception, the non-profit has invested more than $2.9 million into the community by supporting initiatives that provide economic prosperity and enhance the growth and success of Greenwood. 

    “After thoughtful consideration, we decided to rebrand the foundation in 2021 to better reflect our purpose. Everything we do is grounded in our strategic long-term vision. By intent and design, VisionGreenwood continues to be a community partner that is focused on Greenwood’s future and its economic growth and development,” said Self. “We are now more determined than ever to see that Greenwood emerges as one of the top living and working communities in South Carolina.”

    VisionGreenwood’s Core Areas of Focus

    The stated mission of VisionGreenwood is “Providing leadership to enhance the quality of life in Greenwood through strategic long-term vision and collaborative community development initiatives.” To carry out its mission, VisionGreenwood’s Board has identified core areas of focus for development of the Greenwood community: Technology and Innovation, Education, City and Retail Development, Life Sciences and Biotechnology, and Medical Innovation District. Each area of focus has its own distinct initiatives.

    In addition to the expansion of broadband coverage, another notable initiative launched this year is “The Brew,” described by Self as an “ecosystem” for locals to find resources and gain support for their businesses and trades. “The Brew is really where VisionGreenwood sees Greenwood’s collective creativity and its community collaborations collide,” said Self.

    Part of a larger Upstate program developed to promote job growth through entrepreneurism, The Brew provides a venue for entrepreneurs, start-up businesses, and craftsmen to get community feedback about their business plans, challenges, and accomplishments. VisionGreenwood launched the Greenwood Chapter of “The Brew” in collaboration with Uptown Greenwood and the Greenwood Area Small Business Development Center.

    “It takes a concerted effort to sustain new business ideas, so we explored effective programs in place throughout the state. We are pleased to be a part of the Regional Brew Program that successfully brings economic successes to communities in Anderson, Greenville, Greer and Spartanburg, and now Greenwood,” said Self.

    Central to VisionGreenwood’s work is helping strategic partnerships continue to flourish. Perhaps Greenwood’s biggest claim to fame is its international reputation as a hub for innovation in the field of medical genetics.

    “The Greenwood Genetic Center, together with the Clemson University Center for Human Genetics, is among the greatest strengths and most unique assets in our community. VisionGreenwood is proud to be associated with the ongoing development of the Greenwood Genetic Center Partnership Campus,” said Self, who serves on the Board of SCBIO, the statewide, not-for-profit, public/private life sciences industry association and economic development organization formed to actively promote, build, support, expand, and convene South Carolina’s life sciences industry.

    “Quality of life is the cornerstone of VisionGreenwood’s plan of work,” said Self. “We are committed to supporting the development of neighborhoods that provide entertainment, shopping, and dining, along with quality healthcare, world-class education, and employment – all necessary attributes for a thriving community.”

    Pfeiffer added, “Above all, VisionGreenwood exists to make Greenwood a community of choice — one where people want to come and want to stay, whether young professionals or retirees.” 

    In June 2021, VisionGreenwood rolled out a refreshed website showcasing the many ways in which the organization is working to better the community. To learn more, visit www.VisionGreenwood.org and be sure to follow @VisionGreenwoodSC on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. 

     

    About Vision Greenwood

    VisionGreenwood is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with deep roots in the Greenwood community. Throughout the past 20 years, VisionGreenwood (formerly known as the Foundation for a Greater Greenwood County, Inc.) has invested over $2.9 million into the community by supporting collaborative community development initiatives that provide economic prosperity and enhance the growth and success of Greenwood. The Foundation was originally created to support the former Greenwood Partnership Alliance’s charitable operations with a focus on community and workforce development. The Foundation became a stand-alone organization in 2020 and was rebranded as VisionGreenwood in 2021. By intent and design, VisionGreenwood continues to be a community partner that is focused on Greenwood’s future, its economic growth and development, and its quality of life.