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 50 Most Influential


Below, you'll meet the people we believe made the most impact on Greenville during the past year in the business, government, education and nonprofit categories. 

Since influence is a rather subjective concept, you'll notice we've included no numbered rankings. We consider the contributions of each of these people to be important in shaping Greenville's business and community landscape over the past twelve months. 

In the case where several people were integral in coordinating certain deals or events, they are grouped together to represent one of our 50 listings.

For nomination forms and sponsorship opportunities (when available), click here.


William Christopher “Dabo” Swinney led the Tigers to the National Championship game.
Certus Bank continues its march toward becoming the premier South Carolina-based bank.

Velda Hughes runs one the most prestigious and successful public relations, marketing, advertising, and event planning businesses in South Carolina.

Since 1998, Thomas Creek Brewery has been making and selling craft beers to discriminating drinkers from its Greenville facility. In 2013, it introduced three new beers -- Castaway Chocolate Orange IPA, Pumpkin Ale & Coffee Oatmeal Stout.
The United Way set a record this year by raising over $16.6 million during its annual campaign, surpassing last year’s record-setting total by 3.6 percent.
The state of South Carolina has put the aerospace expertise of Steve Townes to work on the South Carolina Aerospace Task Force, which is challenged to enhance and grow the aerospace industry.
From bread to desserts. That’s expected arc of the former Sara Lee bakery at 1916 Piedmont Highway since the Reading, PA, firm of Sweet Street Desserts announced its intention buy the facility.
The Foundation continued its practice of being good stewards while advancing good causes in the Upstate.
When Wells Fargo took over Wachovia at the height of the banking crisis, it acquired a bank that was steeped in supporting education.
Elliott Davis spread its influence throughout the Southeast during 2013. In Richmond, it merged with two firms
SYNNEX, a distributor of IT products and services, was named one of best places to work in South Carolina for the third year in a row.
At the close of the year, Michelin opened its newly constructed Anderson facility, which will produce large tires for earthmoving equipment.
In an area like the Upstate, which thrives on its reputation as being business friendly and has what sometimes seem to be scores of economic developers,
South Carolina is known for its collections of “supercommunity banks,” community banks that focus on one or two things and do them supremely well to grow the franchise.
Many health care providers think the next frontier of medicine is so-called “personalized medicine,” in which a patient’s genetic makeup will give doctors the information
Founded in 2008 by J.B. Holeman and Tim Reed, the Angel Network is a group of certified investors who fund and support start-up and early-stage high growth companies.
St. Francis received several accolades in the year: the only hospital in South Carolina to be named to the list of 50 Greenest Hospitals
November was a big month for the automaker. No, not because of the 22,425 vehicles that rolled off the assembly lines.
The property acquisition and management company closed its second fund at the end of 2013 and continued its efforts to buy distressed properties, fix them up, and sell or lease them.
After several years of discussion and planning, Greenville Tech began work on its Center for Manufacturing Innovation, otherwise known as the Enterprise Campus.
When it comes to championing technology and the businesses its supports, John Warner and Phil Yanov are the go-to guys.
Christian Wagner, CEO of in-tech Automotive EngineeringThe Upstate often thinks of German investment in terms of BMW. But increasingly other German firms are finding their way here.
The much-anticipated Inland Port was put into service November 12, when the first trainload of goods headed out the Port of Charleston.
Jil Littlejohn became head of the Urban League of the Upstate at the beginning of the year.
The USC School of Medicine Greenville is a big hit with prospective students and at least one big donor. The school received 2,200 applications for the 50 slots in its inaugural class.
In 2004, Anna Kate Hipp and Hayne Hipp, in conjunction with Wofford College and the Aspen Institute, formed the Liberty Fellowship to help move South Carolina forward by training leaders.
The first step in redeveloping the West Side area was the presentation of the Westside Master Plan.
For the first time in recent memory, there were no “Pop-Up” stores in downtown Fountain Inn during the Christmas season.
In August, the manufacturer of emission-free electric buses announced it had doubled the size of its facilities, added a production line, and increased its workforce by 50 percent.
Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research has received widespread publicity for its innovative Deep Orange Vehicle Prototyping Program.
Gibbs opened its Pelham office, a $7 million, 10,000 square foot facility that brings Gibbs nationally recognized cancer car to Greenville County.
The family-owned hospitality company completed its multi-million dollar renovation of downtown’s Hyatt Hotel in 2013, and announced plans for another downtown hotel, at the corner of Spring and Washington streets.
Triune Mercy started as a United Methodist church. Falling membership dictated a change of mission, and in 1989 it became a soup kitchen serving meals to the homeless.
Since its founding in 2010, Ten at the Top has become the region’s premier conversation starter.
With the expansion and remodeling of the airport terminal and grounds underway, GSP officials embarked on a new project in 2013 – land development.
It took awhile (six years to be exact), but the old Greenville Mall site has been transformed into a mixed-use retail and entertainment destination.
As often happens in the tech industry, Computer Software Innovations was bought up, in this case by Constellation Software out of Toronto. Turned out Constellation only wanted its software division.
It would probably be easier to list the things Bob Hughes did not accomplish in 2013.
Any school foundation can raise money. But what Bob Howard and Greenville Tech Foundation are masters at is getting the goods.
In 2011 Council adopted the Stone Avenue Master Plan. This is the year it gets put to the test,
TD Bank, which calls itself “America’s most convenient bank,” opened its Greenville campus to great community acclaim.
Pacolet Milliken, the private investment fund connected to the Milliken family, donated two acres of land in the Judson for a community garden.
This year was a time of significant change at Clemson University. Long-time president Jim Barker stepped down and was replaced by Jim Clements, whom they recruited from West Virginia University.
Bosch Rexroth began production in its $80 million facility that started life as an industrial warehouse. students.