Written by Smoak PR

Ten at The Top Announces Winners for their Regional Awards at Celebrating Upstate Unsung Heroes Virtual Event

Greenville, SC | November 19, 2020 – On Wednesday, November 18th, Ten at the Top [TATT] hosted the Celebrating Upstate Unsung Heroes Virtual Event in place of their annual Celebrating Successes Luncheon. While this event focused on honoring the many unsung heroes who have gone above and beyond for their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, two of TATT’s traditional awards were also presented, The Burdette Leadership Award and The Welling Award for Regional Collaboration.

This event marked the fifth year that the Burdette Leadership Award has been given in recognition of Carol Burdette, the first female chair of Ten at the Top. The 2020 recipient of this award was Beth Padgett, who recently retired from serving as Executive Director of Compass of Carolina. This award is given to women who have stood out for their leadership and service across the Upstate, and Beth has demonstrated that through her volunteer work and career at Compass of Carolina, along with her current service as the District Governor for Rotary District 7750.

“Though we would have preferred to honor our award winners and Upstate Unsung Heroes during an event where everyone was in-person, it was great to be able to recognize deserving recipients with a virtual audience of 300+ watching,” said Dean Hybl, Executive Director of Ten at the Top.

The Welling Award for Regional Collaboration, named after Ten at the Top’s founding chairman, Irv Welling III, is awarded to individuals or organizations that embody the spirit of thinking and acting regionally. This year’s recipient was Michelin North America, for leading and fostering collaboration around the issue of mobility through their funding of the Upstate Mobility Alliance and support for the movement of people and goods across the Upstate. Mobility is critical to the mission of Michelin NA, which operates several facilities in the Upstate, and they have spent significant time, energy and resources championing this issue across the Upstate, country and globe.

To learn more about Ten at the Top as an organization, please visit www.tenatthetop.org

ABOUT TEN AT THE TOP

Comprised of public, private and civic leaders across the ten-county Upstate South Carolina Region, Ten at the Top was created to build regional trust and consensus through data-driven research and regular convening of leaders and citizens to address key issues facing the region. Ten at the Top works with regional partners to encourage quality growth and enhance the economic vitality, natural and cultural resources and quality of life for Upstate residents both today and as the region continues to grow. www.tenatthetop.org.

Written by Smoak PR

Ten at The Top Announces 10 County Representatives for Celebrating Upstate Unsung Heroes Virtual Event

Greenville, SC | November 19, 2020 – On Wednesday, November 18th, Ten at the Top hosted the Celebrating Upstate Unsung Heroes Virtual Event in place of their annual Celebrating Successes Luncheon. This event focused on honoring the many individuals throughout the Upstate who have devoted their time and selflessly served their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over 130 nominees were recognized during the event as “Upstate Unsung Heroes.” You can read the full list on the Ten at the Top website.

One individual per county was selected to receive special recognition during the event. Below are the 10 county representatives that were present for this special presentation:

Abbeville: Ethan Cornick – Dreams with Open Arms, Volunteer

Anderson: David Baker – Anderson County, Emergency Services Director

Cherokee: Dr. Carol McFadden – Know(2) Neighborhood Association, Volunteer Director

Greenville: Marina Lewis – Mauldin High School, Social Worker

Greenwood: George McKinney – Greenwood County, Emergency Management Director

Laurens: Joey Avery – Laurens County, Emergency Management Director

Oconee: Vanessa Earle – Prisma Health, Community Health Worker

Pickens: Lesa Howard – 5 Point Church Food Pantry, Director

Spartanburg: Charlene Cheeks – Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Upstate, CEO

Union: Shanna “Nikki” Burgess – SC Works Greater Upstate, Talent Development Specialist Supervisor

“To adapt to these unprecedented times, Ten at the Top felt it was necessary to change both the format and focus of this annual event. We decided to bring the upstate together by recognizing the hundreds of individuals who have remained committed to serving others amidst the many unfortunate circumstances this pandemic has brought our way,” said Dean Hybl, Executive Director of Ten at the Top.

“We hope that our event has not only shown great appreciation to these 132 nominees, but also highlighted the number of heroes we have living amongst us in the 10-county Upstate region that we encounter daily.”

To learn more about Ten at the Top as an organization, please visit www.tenatthetop.org

ABOUT TEN AT THE TOP

Comprised of public, private and civic leaders across the ten-county Upstate South Carolina Region, Ten at the Top was created to build regional trust and consensus through data-driven research and regular convening of leaders and citizens to address key issues facing the region. Ten at the Top works with regional partners to encourage quality growth and enhance the economic vitality, natural and cultural resources and quality of life for Upstate residents both today and as the region continues to grow. www.tenatthetop.org.

Written by Smoak PR

Caldwell Constructors Hires Experienced New Team Member

GREENVILLE, S.C. – September 14, 2020 – Caldwell Constructors is proud to announce the addition of Ryan Cardell as Assistant Project Manager to their team. A U.S. Marine Corps veteran with impressive project management experience, Cardell will bring his knowledge and skillset to Caldwell Constructors while upholding the company’s core values of integrity, honesty, respect, service, and communication.

Ryan previously worked within the construction industry for 7 years, most recently serving as an Assistant Project Manager at Scorpio in Gainesville, Florida. Cardell has gained extensive experience with new construction, renovations, LEED projects and BIM coordination through managing projects at the University of Florida.

“We are excited to welcome Ryan, a very talented and experienced new member, to the Caldwell Constructors family,” says President of Caldwell Constructors, Gary Caldwell. “He will provide a valuable set of skills and will be an exceptional addition to our team. We are thrilled to have him on board!”

About Caldwell Constructors

Caldwell Constructors is a full-service construction company that focuses on building relationships and providing exceptional service to clients across the Upstate of South Carolina. Caldwell Constructors has extensive experience in commercial, industrial, institutional and medical market segments. Their approach to delivering projects with unwavering integrity, creative problem solving, and tireless work ethic has earned Caldwell Constructors an excellent reputation in the Upstate. For more information, please visit the Caldwell Constructors website at www.caldwellconstructors.com/.

Written by Smoak PR

Fall 2020 Intern Blog

As students interested in the communication and public relations field, we are thrilled to be interning with Smoak PR this fall. While the COVID-19 pandemic is keeping us from interning in the office for the majority of the semester, we have already started communicating remotely with each other as well as the Smoak team. This uncertain time is giving us a new perspective on public relations and we look forward to collaborating more and helping each other as fellow interns. 

My name is Madison Drake, and I’m a senior at Furman University majoring in psychology. I chose to pursue a career in Public Relations and Communications when I realized I wanted to combine my analytical mind with my creative side. Thankfully, there is still psychology in every aspect of public relations. At Smoak PR, I am eager to improve my knowledge of public relations and marketing strategy. I also hope to gain experience in the virtual event planning field, as I believe that virtual events have already begun catching popularity during the pandemic.  

My name is Madison Garrett, and as a senior at Furman University majoring in Communications and English, it comes as no surprise to learn my interests involve being creative and writing. I have always had a creative side I liked to explore. Once in college, I decided I would combine my two interests, which ultimately led to my chosen majors. Through this, I have realized I enjoy helping tell other’s stories in the most effective and efficient way possible. This desire of mine has driven my goal for a career in public relations. Therefore, I am very grateful for this opportunity to intern with Smoak PR. I am excited to gain invaluable PR knowledge, and further my skills regarding media management and strategy.  

My name is Abbigail Yates, and I am a Communications major minoring in Public Relations at the University of South Carolina Upstate. As a sophomore, I know that I have a lot of valuable lessons to learn about the public relations field and I am very excited and thankful to gain hands-on experience. Being a student at heart, I truly love to learn new skills and I value any experience that I can gain, especially when it comes to communications and mass media. I plan to use my experience and knowledge to pursue a career in the field of non-profit organizations so that I can work to better the community around me.  At Smoak PR, I look forward to learning how to make local connections and putting my love for research and writing to good use. 

While this semester’s virtual (and hopefully in-person) internship experience might look a little different, we are all so excited to get a glimpse into the field of public relations. We plan to collaborate and take ownership of many tasks and experiences Smoak PR provides for us.  

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Summer Internship Reflection

As the summer comes to a close, we have individually taken the time to reflect on our experience as interns at Smoak PR. Collectively, we have not only gained unique hands-on experience in the workforce, but have fostered relationships among each other and our new mentors that will carry us through our future career paths. As a group, we want to publicly thank the ladies of Smoak PR for investing in us and teaching us more than we could have imagined in just a few short months. Here is what each of us personally have reflected on:

Meg Einstein, University of Alabama:

During my time at Smoak PR, especially given the obscure circumstances in relation to COVID-19, I learned more about the public relations industry than I could have ever expected. Not only did I learn about a constantly evolving industry, but I also learned a lot about myself. While we were only in the office for a little over one week, I learned that working in person with a team full of impactful and driven people pushed me to do my absolute best. Interpersonal relationships are a standard in public relations and being surrounded by professionals in the industry and building those relationships with both the ladies at Smoak PR and with clients was an experience I could never get in a classroom. When it comes to what exactly I’ve learned during this internship, the main thing that comes to mind is that time management and self-motivation are everything. While as a student I have taken a few online classes, working from home is a completely different ballgame. It takes a lot of self- discipline and motivation to get done what is expected, and even more so to go above and beyond. I’ve never appreciated a working atmosphere more, and I can’t wait to utilize what I’ve learned during my time at Smoak PR and apply it to the working world.

Kate Childs, Furman University:

My experience at Smoak PR has been nothing short of exceptional. Even despite the challenges that were presented by COVID-19, this summer proved to be a rare opportunity to grow in new and unique ways. I was able to expand my knowledge and skills in Public Relations more in three months, primarily remotely, than I ever thought possible! Not only was I continually impressed by the work of the women at Smoak, but I admire and appreciate how much each woman invested in me personally, and in helping me grow as someone aspiring to enter into the PR field. At the beginning of the summer, I wrote that I wanted to learn more about political campaigns and how a job in Public Relations could overlap with the political realm. Upon beginning my internship, I was given the chance to learn both of these things and so much more. Smoak gave me the opportunity to work closely with a local political campaign, even taking it a step further by allowing me to produce social media content, E-Blasts, and press releases. This is just the tip of the iceberg of some of the opportunities I was given this summer; I was able to work with a diverse group of clients, crafting content for their social media, websites, community relations, and more. Most importantly, I was able to cater all of these skills and projects to the circumstances under which we are currently living, which increased by ability to produce quality content in any environment. As I leave this internship, I am incredibly grateful for the enriching and insightful experience that I had at Smoak PR.

Emily Gallman, Clemson University:

As the summer comes to a close, I can’t help but feel gratitude for the experience I am walking away with. Of course, it is important to address that our summer was affected by COVID-19 in some ways, but that did not hinder my time at Smoak PR. If anything, it taught me more skills in time management, collaboration, punctuality, and getting comfortable with asking for help. While this summer was a change for everyone in the office, the ladies of Smoak PR did not let this affect how much time and energy they invested in the interns and our learning experience. Just a few of the skills I learned over the past few months are graphic design, social media content creation, writing, and even photography! While completing a virtual internship would typically be disappointing for most, I found that Smoak PR was able to make their job seem even more relevant during this trying time. I learned how important it is to not only address current events, but to respond to them in a timely manner. The skills I learned through this internship will be those that I carry while entering the workforce, and I feel an immense amount of appreciation for Smoak PR.

Breya Moss, Coastal Carolina University:

My time at Smoak PR has been an amazing learning experience. As a college student, there is only so much you can learn in the classroom so getting real world professional experience is crucial. Although COVID-19 changed the dynamic of having a face-to-face internship, I was able to learn just as much virtually. This opportunity made me realize how important Public Relations is in these unprecedented times. It also helped me realize that I am able to do my best when I am in the office and able to collaborate and brainstorm. I really enjoyed watching the women of Smoak PR interact with their clients and seeing their passion for PR. This summer I was able to gain experience in community relations by creating innovative ideas for virtual events. I also learned a lot about social media and ways to generate content. One thing that I enjoyed about generating social media content was working with Canva. This allowed me to become more aware of my creative side. As I leave this internship, I am able to take everything I have learned this summer and apply it to any future situation. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to gain knowledge from Smoak PR this summer.

As promised, we have put all of our efforts into making the most of this internship. Signing off with a piece of advice for the future interns: ask questions, speak your mind, and form connections with the amazing women of Smoak PR.

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Merline & Meacham, P.A. Receives Multiple Awards by Best Lawyers® for 2021

GREENVILLE – August 24, 2020 – Greenville based law firm, Merline & Meacham, P.A. is pleased to announce their inclusion in the 2021 U.S. News – Best Lawyers ® rankings. Over half of the firms’ ten attorneys were recognized in annual ranking.

The following were selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© for 2021: Robert E. August in the fields of Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships), Closely Held Companies and Family Business Law, Corporate Law, Litigation and Controversy – Tax, Mergers and Acquisitions Law, Tax Law, and Trusts and Estates; Verne McGough Jr. selected in the fields of Tax Law and Trusts and Estates; Keith G. Meacham in Business Organizations (including LLCs and partnerships), Closely Held Companies and Family Business Law, Litigation – Trusts and Estates, Litigation and Controversy – Tax, Nonprofit/Charities Law, Tax Law, and Trusts and Estates; David A. Merline Jr. in the fields of Corporate Law, Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law, Litigation – ERISA, Litigation – Trusts and Estates, Litigation and Controversy – Tax, Mergers and Acquisitions Law, Nonprofit/Charities Law, Tax Law, and Trusts and Estates; Marie Monroe in the fields of Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships), Closely Held Companies and Family Business Law, Employee Benefit (ERISA) Law, Nonprofit/Charities Law, Trusts and Estates; and Douglas B. O’Neal in Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships), Closely Held Companies and Family Business Law, Corporate Law, Mergers and Acquisitions Law, Tax Law, and Trusts and Estates.

In addition, David A. Merline Jr. was named the Best Lawyers ® 2021 Corporate Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Greenville, S.C while Keith Meacham received the Best Lawyers® 2021 Litigation and Controversy – Tax “Lawyer of the Year” award. Robert August was also recognized by Best Lawyers® as the 2021 Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships) “Lawyer of the Year” award winner. Finally, Andrew Merline received a 2021 Best Lawyers®: One to Watch recognition for Trusts and Estates.

 “We are thrilled to have members of our team recognized by Best Lawyers®. Receiving this honor is a special distinction that signals a unique combination of excellence and breadth of expertise,” says David A. Merline Jr. “We look forward to continuing to provide the highest quality legal work for the upstate for many years to come.”

About Merline and Meacham: Merline and Meacham is a Merline & Meacham, P.A. was founded in 1970 in Greenville, South Carolina. The firm’s practice concentrates on tax, estate planning, trusts and estates, corporate and business transactional law. For more information, please visit the Merline & Meacham website at https://www.merlineandmeacham.com

Written by Smoak PR

Spinx Launches Food Truck: The Cluk Truk

GREENVILLE, SC – August 10, 2020 – Greenville-based fuel and convenience retail company The Spinx Company, is delighted to announce the launch of its new state-of-the-art food truck, The Cluk Truk! This food truck will serve the same legendary chicken that is sold in Spinx convenience stores across the Upstate, allowing people to enjoy the popular offering in a new and exciting setting.

“We are so excited to offer a new and enjoyable way to serve the Upstate community,” says Stewart Spinks, Founder and Chairman of The Spinx Company. “This has been a long-time dream in the making, and we believe that it will provide a unique way to introduce our legendary fried chicken to even more people across the state.”

The following menu items will be featured via The Cluk Truk:

  • Chicken Tenders – original or spicy
  • Buffalo Chicken Snack Wrap
  • Chicken Tender Slider
  • Chicken Tender Sandwich
  • Cole Slaw
  • French Fries
  • Canned Sodas & Spinx Water

 The food truck will be available for booking beginning this Fall. Until then, it can be found at various Spinx locations across the Upstate only.

 To locate the food truck, the community is encouraged to keep a close eye on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @Spinxcluktruk, or visit https://www.myspinx.com/cluktruk/.

 ABOUT SPINX – Founded in 1972 in Greenville, S.C., The Spinx Company operates 84 convenience retail stores throughout South Carolina, and with approximately 1,400 employees, it is the largest privately-held retailer headquartered in the state. Spinx is committed to making life easier by fulfilling people’s everyday needs with fresh, on-the-go food, beverages and other convenience products delivered in a safe, clean and friendly environment. Through the Spinx Xtras Loyalty program and the Spinx mobile app, the company offers its loyal customers savings on fuel and special promotions.

Written by Smoak PR

Social Influencers 101

A common buzzword you may be familiar with is “influencer”. What exactly defines a social influencer? Is it the number of followers someone has, the brands represented or how “known” they are throughout the digital world? Believe it or not, social influencers are considered one of today’s strongest social media marketing tools. Through partnerships with influential accounts, brand awareness ultimately increases, and companies enter into a community built upon communication between brands, consumers, and market leaders.

Influencer marketing is a strategy used to promote products and services through partnerships with popular social media users who have a large, highly engaged audience. Companies and brands partner with users to build product and service credibility to drive sales and it is important to take advantage of social influencers within your target market. By collaborating with influencers, you will maximize your digital presence which will directly affect your brand awareness and sales. Check out a few reasons why you should take advantage of social influencer relationships and why it is so important in today’s digital world:

  1. Reach a larger audience – Partnerships with social influencers increase your brand awareness and broaden your audience. When influencers share product/service reviews and showcase your brand through blogs, social posts and stories, your brand audiences expand, and your following grows.
  2. Build brand trust – A strong influencer is one who has highly engaged followers. Engaged followers are those who trust an influencer’s opinion, listen to product reviews, and interact with the influencer’s stories and posts to learn more about your brand. When influencers share honest reviews of your product/service, engaged followers listen.
  3. Grow your following – Get in front of followers other than your own! We are always looking for other ways to increase account followers and this is a great way to do so. Engaged followers of influencers are more likely to follow your brand after seeing that they support you and would recommend your product/service to their platform.
  4. Increase traffic and sales – Over time an increase in account followers results in a return on investment in sales. As your brand gains traction on social media due to your collaboration with influencers, an increase in website traffic and sales is guaranteed so take advantage of these opportunities. It will pay off in the long run and benefit your company in a great way!
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Caldwell Constructors Awarded Building Contracts for Projects in Clemson and Greenville

GREENVILLE – July 13, 2020 – Caldwell Constructors is pleased to announce they have been recently awarded two exciting contracts with repeat clients including Gastroenterology Associates and Senior Action.

Clemson Endoscopy Center at Patrick Square will be the fourth project Caldwell Constructors will renovate for Gastroenterology Associates & Endoscopy Center in the Upstate. This project will include the construction of a 9,200 square foot medical office building and related site work at Patrick Square in Clemson. Caldwell Constructors will be working in unison with SHLTR Architects to complete this project.

Clemson Endoscopy Center at Patrick Square

Senior Action, an organization based out of Greenville, outgrew the space Caldwell Constructors renovated for them in 2006. The current project is a 33,000 square foot interior and façade renovation of the BI-LO shopping center located at E North Street and Howell Road in Greenville. The project consists of offices, fitness areas, an event hall, and entertainment functions such as music and visual arts. Caldwell Constructors will be working with architect Craig Gaulden Davis to complete this project.

Senior Action Building

“We are excited to continue working with these two wonderful clients,” says President of Caldwell Constructors, Gary Caldwell. “Each of these projects will bring a new and refreshing look to our client’s workspace, and we look forward to exceeding their expectations and delivering a space for them to be proud of.”

All projects complete by January 2021.

About Caldwell Constructors

Caldwell Constructors is a full-service construction company that focuses on building relationships and providing exceptional service to clients across the Upstate of South Carolina. Caldwell Constructors has extensive experience in commercial, industrial, institutional and medical market segments. Their approach to delivering projects with unwavering integrity, creative problem solving, and tireless work ethic has earned Caldwell Constructors an excellent reputation in the Upstate. For more information, please visit the Caldwell Constructors website at www.caldwellconstructors.com/.

Written by Smoak PR

CommunityWorks Opens Women’s Business Center and Hires Program Director

Greenville, SC | Monday, July 6, 2020 – CommunityWorks is proud to announce their selection by the Small Business Administration as one of two organizations in South Carolina to house a Women’s Business Center. The CommunityWorks Women’s Business Center will enable and empower women entrepreneurs and will be led by Program Director, Ana Parra, who will manage the programming and operations of the center.

Parra joins CommunityWorks from a local marketing agency and brings a background in community development, nonprofit leadership, and communications. A current board member of Public Education Partners and Speaking Down Barriers, and a graduate of Leadership Greenville, Parra’s passion for the community and professional experience lays a strong foundation for the center.

The CommunityWorks Women’s Business Center focuses on serving women, particularly minorities, who may be economically disadvantaged, and works to offer comprehensive training and counseling on a vast array of business-related topics. CommunityWorks, an SBA approved lender, has the mission to build opportunities for all through equitable lending, investing and financial education. This mission closely aligns with the goal of the new center to provide tailored services through advocacy, outreach, education and support to women entrepreneurs who are seeking to start or grow their own business.

“The CommunityWorks Women’s Business Center will serve to broaden the reach and scope of their current programming, and place a unique focus on supporting underserved and underrepresented women entrepreneurs,” said Greenville Chamber CEO, Carlos Phillips. “Their ability to expand their services in this way will ensure Upstate South Carolina’s women entrepreneurs will have greater access to capital and coaching to expand or start their small business. We at the Greenville Chamber see great value of such an effort.”

Tammie Hoy Hawkins, CEO of CommunityWorks, added, “We believe small businesses are the backbone of our community, and we look forward to serving more women entrepreneurs throughout South Carolina.”

The center will be operated out of CommunityWorks office at 100 W. Antrim Drive in Greenville. Those who are interested in learning more about the CommunityWorks Women’s Business Center can visit the webpage.

The Women’s Business Center is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). SBA’s funding is not an endorsement of any products, opinions, or services. All SBA-funded programs are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis.

About CommunityWorks

CommunityWorks was established in 2008 as a local housing trust fund through a partnership between the City of Greenville, United Way of Greenville County and Greenville County Redevelopment Authority. CommunityWorks’ mission is to build a brighter future for underserved families and communities through financial education, lending, and investing. In 2011 CommunityWorks was certified by U.S. Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) which operates a community loan fund that supports community economic development.

Since its inception, CW has generated over $221 million in local economic impact and has provided 33,900 hours of training and coaching, served 4,008 families, provided over $3.9 million loans to startups and existing small businesses, and deployed over $6.3 million in affordable housing and community loans that have created or preserved over 662 affordable housing units.

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