Featured In Winter 2020 Business View Magazine

With opportunities for career and personal growth, and resources like SYP that let young professionals get involved in the community, now is the time to be a young professional in Spartanburg.

In its second year, Spartanburg Young Professionals’ The YPs honored teachers, artists, doctors and designers – all playing their part in advancing Spartanburg’s forward momentum, especially for young professionals. More than 300 nominations were submitted for this year’s class of The YPs. The SYP board chose the top three candidates in each category, with more than 700 community members ranking the finalists to select the awardees.

“The YPs of Spartanburg County are getting it done. Sometimes their work is visible, and sometimes it’s more behind -the-scenes, but young professionals are absolutely playing a major role in Spartanburg’s growth,” said Hunter Brown, SYP communications chairman. “The YPs is a great way to have their work recognized, with the support of SYP and the community. That in turn helps young professionals feel valued in Spartanburg, which improves the chances they stay in Spartanburg.”

In the last few years, Spartanburg has become a place where young professionals can grow professionally and explore leadership opportunities both at work and in the community. From 2012-2017, Spartanburg saw a 17.8 percent increase in the number of 25-34-year-old – aka millennials – countywide. That was good enough to be the eight-fastest growing small metro area in the U.S. for millennial population growth.

“It’s a great city to get started in and build a solid career or business. The city is thriving and always looking for new ways to help students and young professionals become successful,” said Ben Hall, owner of Big Ben’s Desserts and the 2019 Youhg Professional in Entrepreneurship.

At a Spartanburg Chamber Caffeinated Conversations event in March 2019, several young professionals said Spartanburg had a Goldilocks quality – it wasn’t too big or too small, but just right.

Lanie Whitaker, who along with her business partner at Arrowhead Design Co., Jamie Woodruff, were named Young Professionals in Communications, said that small-town vibe Spartanburg has is welcoming and encouraging for young professionals. “

When something happens in Spartanburg, the whole city knows about it, but not in your average small town way. Everybody knows about it because everyone is excited and wants to share the success. People want to know what’s going on, and our community is good at showcasing that,” she said. 

“It is exciting to have new retailers to visit, new restaurants to try, and new entertainment spots to enjoy in the heart of the city, even after 10 years of living here,” said Jenni Russell, this year’s Young and Professional in Innovation.

Russell, assistant product manager at Contec, INC., said Spartanburg offers the feel of a small community but with a bigger reputation.

“I love having a quaint, diverse downtown space filled with small, locally owned business, yet we have plenty of major retail business and restaurants a few miles down the road. Young professionals are able to support small businesses often =, yet we are not limited by the resources available in close proximity,” she said. “That feels like the best of both worlds – without a major commute.”

The county’s job and housing market is strong, making the live, work, and play pussple easier to fill in

Sundra Proctor Smith, this year’s Young and Professional in Education, said Spartanburg offers young professionals a great place to get started in work and family.

“Spartanburg is a great destination for young professionals looking for new homes and advancement. The job market is expanding, housing costs are reasonable, and there is plenty of culture, service opportunities and nightlife to entertain you when you’re not at work,” she said.

The wide array of quality-of-life amenities Spartanburg has to offer has only increased. New restaurants featuring everything from down-home favorites to adventurous international cuisine have opened in recent years, as have craft breweries and new entertainment and recreation options. Downtown itself has grown by leaps and bounds, too, with 289 businesses in the heart of the Hub City.

“Spartanburg is growing because Spartanburg is intentional about getting better. The growth in Spartanburg creates a lot of opportunities for young professionals,” said Hootie Solesbee, Young and Professional in Business. “I firmly belive that we are only at the beginning of the wave of Spartanburg’s rise of becoming one of the greatest towns in the Southeast.”

Solesbee, director at Harper Construction Co., has used SYP to get involved in the community, serving on nonprofit boards across the county.

“The people of Spartanburg genuinely care for the people of Spartanburg. I love all of the opportunities it provides to make a real impact in your community,” Solesbee said.

Proctor Smith said she has enjoyed the opportunities for professional growth available to her in Spartanburg. Proctor Smith, a special education teacher, said Spartanburg also provides a locational advantage for young professionals.

“An advantage of living in Spartanburg is its location. You are able to experience metropolitan areas while also enjoying the small town feeling that Spartanburg offers. Spartanburg is close to major cities like Charlotte, Atlanta and Columbia. You can enjoy the restaurants and entertainment that the large cities have and then return home on the same day,” she said.

“We would say that whether you’re from Spartanburg or you’re an outsider looking in…you’re considering Spartanburg most likely because you see the potential. We did too, and we feel as though we made the best decision we could have to put roots down here,” Whitaker said. 

Spartanburg’s talent pool has never been deeper. Just take a look at this year’s class of The YPs, a group of 10 individuals making an impact on Spartanburg County through their work or services in various industries.