In November, the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce unveiled a Talent and Economic Inclusion initiative. The initiative is based on the feedback from the business community and the telling data of the OneSpartanburg community assessment.
Thanks to committed partners, a programming budget, and elevated staff roles have been created: The vice president of Talent and Economic Inclusion will work to create and implement a strategic plan to ensure economic inclusion and to develop, attract and retain talent. A coordinator role will also be created. The team will be responsible for the projects and initiatives of the OneSpartanburg Talent driver and the Chamber’s Inclusion Council.
Betsy Neely Sikma, formerly director of Small Business and Entrepreneurial Development for the Economic Futures Group, has been named VP of Talent and Economic Inclusion. Betsy learned the power of economic inclusion during her five years at Accion in Chicago, a nonprofit microlender, and business development organization. Betsy’s past work has sought to upskill talent and address the tech skills gap.
In addition to their current roles, John Kimbrell, EVP of the Spartanburg Chamber, and Jansen Tidmore, EVP of the Downtown Development Partnership, will continue the development of Spartanburg’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, lead the Entrepreneurial Action Team and continue its current projects. Kimbrell and Tidmore have extensive experience in the small business and entrepreneurial development space, collaborating with NEXT in Greenville and The Nest in Dothan, Ala., respectively.
“We know that to build our talent pool, we must build an attractive and inclusive community. We must build a community that reflects Spartanburg’s diversity, a community where all people are provided the opportunity to succeed. I am confident that Betsy will continue to elevate the work that the Inclusion Council and Talent Action Team members have begun.” – Karen Knuckles, Owner of Express Employment Professionals, Vice Chair of Inclusion for the Spartanburg Chamber
“My time thus far in Spartanburg has allowed me to get to know my hometown again. The development of our entrepreneurial ecosystem is a key part of talent and economic inclusion, and has laid the groundwork for me to step into this role with an understanding of our landscape and with clarity of vision for the work ahead of us.” – Neely Sikma
This initiative would not be possible without the support of the following entities: OneSpartanburg and its 39 Investors | City of Spartanburg | Duke Energy Foundation | Spartanburg County Foundation | Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System | BMW Manufacturing Co. | Denny’s | Draexlmaier Automotive of America LLC | Milliken & Co.
(Written by by Naomi Sargent.)