These organizations not only lease a space in Upper Savannah COG building; they also serve a similar geographic area and collaborate on mutually beneficial projects.
Western Piedmont Education Consortium (WPEC)
During the 1996-97 school year, ten superintendents began discussions of ways they could work together to make their districts more efficient and more effective. In the fall of 1997, those superintendents formalized a working collaboration that was named the Western Piedmont Education Consortium.
The original intent of the ten superintendents was to find ways to save money, save time and to strengthen operations through sharing costs, sharing resources and sharing expertise.
Western Piedmont Education Consortium is an association of school districts in upper western South Carolina who work collaboratively to accomplish specific goals. The Consortium serves 13 school districts. In 2016, Lander University and Piedmont Technical College joined the Consortium.
Upper Savannah Land Trust (USLT)
The Upper Savannah Land Trust was incorporated on October 1, 2000, by citizens of the region as a 501(c)(3) organization. Finding widespread interest in its mission, the Land Trust began accepting easements from landowners. The first was a 33-acre tract. From this humble beginning, the Land Trust grew rapidly to become one of the largest land trusts in the state by the end of its first ten years of operation.
This remarkable achievement was possible only because of the efforts of our many supporters. We are most grateful for the confidence of our donors, especially those who came aboard in our early years. This confidence was the basis for the spectacular rise in the acreage of conservation easements donated voluntarily to our land trust. The most dramatic increase occurred in 2009 with the addition of some 20,000 acres conserved. Ten years later, we crossed the 50,000-acre mark. Regardless of our size, however, our first commitment is maintaining the trust of our donors.
The mission of the Upper Savannah Land Trust is to encourage and pursue the conservation of natural, historic, and scenic lands—farms, forests, waterways, and open spaces in the western Piedmont of South Carolina. Our service area includes the counties of Abbeville, Anderson, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, Newberry, McCormick, and Saluda.
SC Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
The mission of the SC SBDC is to advance South Carolina’s economic development by helping entrepreneurs grow successful businesses. This means not only assisting the formation of new ventures, but also finding ways to help existing businesses to compete in a demanding market and faltering companies to stay on course. Consultants have often been entrepreneurs themselves so they know how first-hand the importance of an accurate business plan or what a financial institution looks for when deciding whether to fund a business.
Small Business Development Centers continue to play a crucial role in supporting the nation’s economy. According to the SBA, more than half of all private sector employees work for small businesses. In an economy struggling to produce jobs, many downsized workers have developed a high entrepreneurial spirit. Helping those who seek their fortune in the private enterprise system not only paves the way for their success, but often supports job growth.
Every SBDC carefully tracks outcomes, keeping close tabs on the number of clients served and the end results of each entrepreneur’s journey. SC SBDCs offer free, confidential consulting on financing, marketing, employee management, importing and exporting, technology, market expansion, bookkeeping, manufacturing, government procurement and nuclear industry opportunities. There are also programs for veterans and minority-owned businesses. SC SBDC programs are constantly evolving to meet the needs of an ever-changing economy, providing much needed services to South Carolina’s small business community.