The city of Greenville is changing.
The South Carolina city is bringing in billions of dollars each year in investment, mostly brought in by high-profile economic development groups. Tech startups are finding a home in this fast-growing community.
Long-time Greenville residents can remember a time not long ago when people avoided the downtown. Now, the downtown is the center of attention—arguably to the detriment of some of the city’s residents.
Greenville’s rise to prominence brings with it a set of challenges—particularly for the city’s under-resourced households. When a city receives the kind of attention and investment that Greenville is seeing, rises in local rent are not uncommon. The price for a cleaner, more popular, and more tourist friendly city can be quite burdensome for some families, making policy advocacy and community development essential practices to ensure those already struggling don’t fall further behind.
Village Launch believes that economic development isn’t just a community-wide endeavor, but that economic development can also happen at the household level—in fact, it must happen there if residents of a city like Greenville are to survive gentrification and rapid development.
An applicable and immediately helpful form of household-level economic development is job-training, especially entrepreneurial education.
“There are several entrepreneurial programs in the area,” explained Jeanette Brewster, Program Coordinator at Village Launch, “but none like ours. Nothing touching the ultra-small business, the just-getting-started side-hustlers.”
While this gap in Greenville’s entrepreneurial support was leaving out early-stage entrepreneurs of all tribes, it was especially failing Greenville’s underserved neighborhoods—the same families and entrepreneurs who suffer the fallout from Greenville’s push for high growth and big business.
Village Launch’s solution is a combination of entry-level entrepreneurial training and financial support. Competence, confidence, and cash are the basic ingredients of a startup; Village Launch wants to ensure that Greenville residents have all three.