Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of joining Jessica Wilson and the Carolinas communities of USGBC North Carolina and USGBC South Carolina to interface with local leaders and engage with southern hospitality stakeholders through a series of executive roundtables and events.
We started our journey in Columbia, South Carolina, on April 30 and ended the weeklong excursion in Raleigh, North Carolina on May 4, hosting 12 events across four markets and engaging over 175 people in one week. I’ve included travel excerpts below, capturing memorable moments from our Carolinas Market Transformation Tour.
April 30: Columbia, South Carolina
Green Business Boot Camp, Columbia Connectivity Tour and Lula Drake Mixer
We began the week with a Green Business Boot Camp at Wells Fargo in downtown Columbia, training individuals on ways to grow their business through the expanding suite of tools offered by GBCI. Following the boot camp, we took a walk down Main Street to showcase the connectivity of downtown Columbia.
Historic Columbia’s John Sherrer provided context on the city’s landmarks and how the streetscapes have been shaped over the past century. The tour started at the iconic Arcade Mall, built in 1912, with guest speaker Brad Shell, of Peach Properties, Inc. In addition, Rita Patel, owner of Hotel Trundle, opened her doors at Columbia’s first boutique hotel, a collection of three pre-existing historic storefronts: the Rose Talbert, Powell Furniture and Western Auto buildings.
Joined by local USGBC South Carolina leaders, volunteers and members, we enjoyed the lovely Lula Drake Wine. Proprietor and head sommelier Tim Gardner provided a tour of the space and shared the story behind the venue’s name, inspired by a trunk dating back to the early 1920s that they found in the basement.
May 1: Columbia, South Carolina to Charlotte, North Carolina
Women in Green Panel at Nephron Pharmaceuticals and USGBC’s 25th Anniversary Celebration at Barringer Construction
On Tuesday morning, Nephron Pharmaceuticals hosted our Women in Green Panel, focusing on ways women can lead with purpose. Guests gleaned insights from Lou Kennedy, Mary Pat Baldauf, Bonnie Loomis and Mary Beth Sims Branham, all of whom shared stories from their professional careers and experiences. We also would like to thank SCCEBA for their sponsorship.
After a brief drive to Charlotte, we arrived at Barringer Construction for USGBC 25th Anniversary Celebration! We gathered over 40 friends of green building from the region to celebrate accomplishments, look to the future and gather insights from Charlotte leaders on how sustainability will shape the future of the community and beyond.
25th Anniversary Celebration in Charlotte.
Remarks were given by Charlotte change agents John M. Lewis, Jr., of the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), and Amy Aussieker, of Envision Charlotte. It was wonderful to connect with our members, volunteers and annual partners and thank them for all of their work in getting us to an exciting 25 years. TreesCharlotte provided a poignant gift of seedlings, symbolizing strong growth for the next 25 years.
May 2: Charlotte to Greensboro, North Carolina
Hospitality Roundtable at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte and Hospitality Roundtable at Proximity Hotel
We held two of three executive hospitality roundtables on Wednesday, for which we thank our hosts, The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte and the Proximity Hotel. A diverse group of hospitality stakeholders discussed sector-specific barriers and opportunities in implementing sustainability measures. Capturing valuable feedback, our takeaways will shape the educational tracks for our annual Southern Hospitality Summit in Charleston on October 19 at The Dewberry.
Greensboro hospitality roundtable.
May 3–4: Raleigh, North Carolina
Women In Green Panel at North Carolina State University, Hospitality Roundtable at The Umstead and Green Business Boot Camp at AECOM
Our final stop was Raleigh. We started on Thursday morning with an impactful Women in Green Panel at North Carolina State University. Our experts, Stephanie Kelly, Alicia Ravetto, Becky Fricke and Dr. Traci Rose Rider, shared memorable advice. We thank HagerSmith Design for sponsoring the lovely breakfast. On Friday, we gathered Triangle leaders for our third hospitality roundtable at The Umstead Hotel and a final Green Business Boot Camp at AECOM.
Reenergized by the demonstrated support and enthusiasm to transform our collective community by our leaders, I am excited about my next trip to Tennessee and Kentucky to continue the good work across the South Atlantic and South Central regions. I encourage you to connect with your local leaders on the ground in the Carolinas through joining our community, volunteering or engaging through events.