Economic Visionaries 2020 Awards

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Spartanburg Community College held its fourth annual Economic Visionaries celebration this evening, honoring four businesses who have transformed the upstate economy in Spartanburg, Union and Cherokee counties. The 2020 Economic Visionaries award winners include Bank of America, Piedmont Natural Gas, Toray Composite Materials America and Milliken & Company.

“Tonight we celebrate four companies who have transformed the Upstate - companies doing their part to make our economy, our communities and our quality of life among the best in the nation,” explains SCC President Henry C. Giles, Jr. “Bank of America, Piedmont Natural Gas, Toray Composite Materials America and Milliken & Company are each successful and thriving businesses. But, more than that, they are organizations devoted to their employees’ potential, they are our partners engaged in community initiatives to enhance our quality of life and to protect our environment. This year’s Economic Visionaries embrace the future with imagination, wisdom and energy to make a lasting impact on our community. On behalf of the students, faculty and staff at Spartanburg Community College, I congratulate our winners.”

SCC’s annual awards celebration showcases the extraordinary work of area businesses and industries and raises funds critical to the College’s mission to transform lives through education and career preparation. Award applications are divided into four categories, based on company size, with companies evaluated on examples of professional development of employees, economic investment in the community, environmental awareness and initiatives and innovation.

The event keynote speaker was David N. Edwards, Jr., A.A.E., president and CEO of the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport District. Following Edwards’ remarks, Pres. Giles and Amy Wood, event emcee and WSPA TV anchor, presented awards to the following 2020 Economic Visionaries.

Category 1: 1 – 50 employees- Piedmont Natural Gas - A provider of natural gas distribution services since the early 1950s, PNG today is a business unit of Duke Energy, serving more than one million customers in Upstate South Carolina, North Carolina and metropolitan Nashville, Tennessee. The company was recognized for its initiatives in workforce development and environmental awareness and its philanthropy.

“Piedmont Natural Gas is honored to be recognized by Spartanburg Community College as an Economic Visionary,” said Hank McCullough, senior manager, government & community relations. “We are proud of the leadership and contributions that our people make every day in building a more prosperous Spartanburg, where opportunities exist for citizens and businesses to grow and thrive.”

Category 2: 51-150 employees- Toray Composite Materials America, a producer of highly technical carbon fiber used in aerospace, defense, rocket ships/satellites, automotive and other high technical areas.

“Since construction began on our new facility in 2015, Toray began investing in Spartanburg County and its people,” said Tom Hinrichs, Toray director of operations. “We are so happy to have such a meaningful and beneficial relationship with Spartanburg Community College and excited for the opportunities we will provide together to so many in the community. Toray is grateful to be acknowledged as an Economic Visionary.”

In Category 3: 151-400 employees- Bank of America began serving South Carolina more than 120 years ago with a commitment to help grow local economies and strengthen local communities. The company was honored for innovative initiatives to improve customer interaction and employee recruitment and retention.

“We are honored to have supported this region for more than 100 years and to continue to support the great people and the local economy of Spartanburg,” said Stacy Brandon, Bank of America’s upstate market president. “We have a clear purpose to help make financial lives better, and that includes investing in local communities to address workforce development, improve access to education and increase training opportunities. We are grateful to Spartanburg Community College for this special recognition.”

Category 4: 401+ employees- Milliken & Company. With 153 years of storied history in the upstate, Milliken seeks to solve everyday problems with innovative solutions, many of which are brought to life from its Spartanburg headquarters. An advocate for workforce development and empowerment, Milliken was named to America’s Best Mid-Sized Employers list by Forbes magazine for the second time in 2019.

“We are delighted to be honored among SCC’s Economic Visionaries,” said Craig Haydamack, chief human resources officer, Milliken & Company. “Our purpose is to create lasting positive impact. Investing in the talent and economic success of our region helps us meet that goal.”

Proceeds from SCC’s Economic Visionaries event support student emergency funds, student book fund requests and general scholarships administered by the SCC Foundation.

“This signature event has many components to its success - award applications, company sponsorships, a strong keynote speaker, but the most important component to the success is the participation of President Giles and SCC colleagues,” shares Bea Walters Smith, executive director, SCC Foundation.

For more information about this event or the SCC Foundation, contact Bea Walters Smith at (864) 592-4448 or

Photos of the event are available at

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