The Urban Land Institute (ULI) projects that by 2030 the Upstate will gain 235,000 new residents, 118,000 new households and 203,000 new jobs. To help plan for the management of this growth, the ULI will stage an “Upstate Reality Check” on April 8 at the Carolina First Center in Greenville. The goal of the exercise is to develop regional scenarios on how to accommodate the projected growth in an economically viable and environmentally sustainable manner so that the quality of life in the region is enhanced.
Torance Inman, director of the Union County Chamber of Commerce, said the program is a joint effort involving a cross-section of organizations including the ULI, the Upstate Alliance, USC-Upstate, the region’s 10 counties and chambers of commerce. Inman said Union County was asked to send representatives to the exercise who will participate in developing scenarios regarding various aspects of growth in the Upstate.
“We’re hoping to get our officials from the city, the county, the other municipalities, the chamber and the development board together to introduce them to the Reality Check program,” he said. “We will then seek input and suggestions from them on who we can send to participate in the exercise.”
Inman said Union County’s participation is important because it will be affected by the projected growth in the Upstate.
“They’re asking for Union County to be part of this process because although Union is not a large metropolitan area and may or may not see the growth at the same rate as other parts of the Upstate, we are still feeders in part of that region,” he said. “Therefore we also not only benefit from the growth as a whole, we can also be part of the development process.
“If, for example, Greenville bursts at the seams and is consumed with the industrial development of the region where might these people go to enjoy green space?” he asked. “One place may be Sumter National Forest, which in turn brings them to Union.”
As for those who might think the ULI projections are completely off the mark, Inman said the Upstate is uniquely positioned to reap the benefits of growth from far beyond its boundaries.
“Even in this recession, this growth is going to happen,” he said. “We are a connector between Charlotte and Atlanta. If you want to go anywhere in South Carolina from any direction in most cases you’re going to criss-cross the Upstate. We’re not in the middle of nowhere, we’re in the middle of everything.”
Inman said the meeting of local government, business and other parties interested in economic development will be held Feb. 9 at 5:30 p.m. in the USC-Union Community Room. Anyone interested in attending may call the Chamber of Commerce at 427-9039.