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Ten at the Top names award, grant winners

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Members of the Italian American Club of Greater Greenville speak with Hughes Investments' Phil Hughes. (Photo/Molly Hulsey)Seed money from Hughes Investments Elevate Upstate Grant has helped more than 30 different initiatives launch across the Upstate over the last decade. Today, Ten at the Top added two more to that list at its Celebrating Successes event, held at the Greenville Convention Center.

Executive Director Dean Hybl called the grant program “a lynchpin in supporting vibrancy … elevating the concept of vibrancy in our communities.”

In other words — initiatives that boil down to being just plain fun, added Phil Hughes of Hughes Investments.

Parente is awarded a $5,000 grant for the Italian-American Festival. (Photo/Molly Hulsey)Recipients of the $5,000 grant include the Italian-American Festival, planned by the Italian American Club of Greater Greenville, and the city of Belton’s Downtown Sounds concert series.

The Italian-American Festival, a one-day event held on Main Street in Fountain Inn, is expected to host food beverage and craft vendors, as well as live music, dancing and carnival rides.

At the event, the club, sporting fedoras and traditional garb, paraded on stage with the Italian flag and passed around eclairs. They noted that Fountain Inn was selected for its quaint appeal and location near sponsor Gio’s Pastry Shop, but once this festival is underway, the event could be replicated elsewhere.

“There are at least seven other clubs in South Carolina that are Italian clubs, and they all hold festivals once a year — some at least twice a year,” said Martino Ferrante, a club spokesperson. He added that with the grant, they expect to raise about $25,000 for the $22,000 festival budget.

Belton’s Downtown Sounds is expected to host food trucks and musicians four times throughout next summer in the city’s downtown, including Margaret Haney, a Belton native and Nashville-based singer-songwriter who advocated for the festival.

Belton Mayor Eleanor Dorn received the Hughes Investment Elevate Upstate grant for Belton's Downtown Sounds series. (Photo/Molly Hulsey)“If I’ve learned anything, it’s that the people of Belton community love three things: they love to be outside, they love music and they love to eat,” said Belton’s mayor, Eleanor Dorn. “In fact most of the requests I get at city hall is for music to come to the downtown area, so we’ve decided to do our best to make that happen for our community.”

Hughes Investments also extended grants to the three other finalists: United Way of Anderson County’s Artisanal Anderson, a local farm-to-table meal on Main Street; Conestee Nature Preserve’s unPlugged in the Preserve summer concert series; and Honea Path Planning Committee’s Let’s Take a Walk, four seasonal downtown tours held during town festivals.

Other award winners included:

  • S.C. Rep. Rita Allison (R-Spartanburg) was honored with the Burdette Leadership Award
  • Clemson University received the Welling Award for Regional Collaboration
  • Erin Ouzts, director of the Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem at Ten of the Top, and executive director of the Innovative Rural Development Corp., was presented with the Small Business Development Center Award.

Reach Molly Hulsey at 864-720-1223.

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