My Knowledge Park
#MyKnowledgePark with Savannah Underwood. This weekly segment on all things Knowledge Park is the perfect way to find out what's happening in Rock Hill. Check back next Monday for more of Savannah's insight into what's to come. #mykp
Originally from Columbia, SC, living in Rock Hill these last four years has provided me with the opportunity to watch the city I now call home, blossom exponentially. As a 2019 Winthrop Marketing graduate, I thought I’d have it all figured out by now. I definitely don’t…but being a 21-year-old Economic Development intern with my own office in City Hall makes me at least feel like I have my life together. My role as an intern over the next six months primarily consists of assembling and communicating information about the implementation of the Knowledge Park Action Plan to every volunteer, community and board member who is involved (and yes, that is as overwhelming an amount of people as it sounds). I look forward to continuing to learn and grow with the City of Rock Hill as an intern, citizen, and former student.
Over the course of these next six months, I plan to bring to you Knowledge Park updates from a slightly different point of view. Things are changing fast around here, and I’m here to share those changes with you. Hopefully, we all learn something about our community. Rock Hill isn’t what it used to be, but it’s also not what it’s going to be.
- Savannah Underwood
Post #2 - TechPark Annual Picnic
TechPark is a business park located off of Dave Lyle Boulevard that’s been open since the 1990’s. Inside TechPark is a wide spectrum of businesses who chose to operate in a place that has the big city feel with the small city benefits. From engineering companies like Composite Resources, CORE AutoSport, and C.A.T (Combat Application Tourniquet) to paper company Domtar to healthcare professionals at Affinity Health Center, one thing bonds them all: their reliance on technology to not only get the job done, but to get the job done right. As a way to bring all of these companies together, the Economic Development Department at the City of Rock Hill helps host an annual spring picnic at TechPark. Something Rock Hill values a lot is its numerous local businesses, so of course the picnic is catered by a local restaurant. This year’s feast was provided by a locally owned Shane’s Rib Shack.
Now, you’re probably wondering what all of this has to do with Knowledge Park, since after all this is a Knowledge Park blog. If
you’re unfamiliar with Rock Hill’s past, then you should know that Rock Hill used to have a booming textile industry, hence the many skeletons of textile mill’s past located throughout the city. When the textile mills shut down, a new part of Rock Hill’s history began with a deeply-rooted strength in business parks. Within these business parks are knowledge economy jobs employing hundreds of knowledge workers. Business parks are now something that we not only do well, but have done well for a long time. From this sprang the idea for Knowledge Park. Knowledge Park simultaneously has both a foot in the past and a foot in the future. It may seem like a big change, but it’s really no different than what we’ve been doing. Knowledge Park is essentially a business park with a modern twist: an urban park where people come to not only work, but to live, play, and make a home in the newest chapter of Rock Hill’s history-to-come.
Post #3 - MyRide
There’s something big coming to Rock Hill in the next week. How big? Well, it’s free, electric, and about 35 feet long. It’s Rock Hill’s first fare-free fixed-route transit system! The City of Rock Hill has partnered with Winthrop University, Piedmont Medical Center, and Family Trust Federal Credit Union to make an affordable, environmentally-friendly public transit system go from idea to reality. I’m super excited about Rock Hill getting a public transit system because I think it’s something that Rock Hill has needed for a long time, not only to provide a way to get from one place to another, but also as a way to bring people together (literally). I remember my freshman and sophomore year at Winthrop being an on-campus resident and having friends who didn’t have their own car. These buses are going to be great for
everyone in Rock Hill, but I think that college students will really appreciate having a way to get around and explore the city. They will also be great for communities and people who don't have access to transportation. This will open up tons of opportunity for people who need jobs but don't have a car to get to a place of employment. Once the Knowledge Park area has the finishing touches put on it and has more amenities open and ready for use, the bus system will be particularly beneficial in getting more people to visit downtown.
The first route to begin operation will be the Downtown/Knowledge Park loop, scheduled to debut on Monday, June 10. This loop will take you pretty much anywhere you need to go from the Winthrop campus to the surrounding downtown area—something I wish had been available during my first few years at Winthrop when I didn’t know much of anything beyond McDonald’s and 7/11. The icing on the cake? Each bus features free WiFi, mobile charging ports, infotainment screens, and bike racks. In addition, each bus is also ADA compliant, including priority seating with wheelchair procurement, wheelchair ramps, and an automatic voice annunciation system. What more could you ask for? Join us in celebrating the roll out of the MyRide public transit system on Thursday, June 6 at 10am in Fountain Park. This public launch event will have the new buses on display and an introduction of the MyRide drivers.
The other three routes are set to debut on Monday, July 1. Once full service begins, you can catch a ride on the new buses Mondays through Saturdays from 7:00am to 7:00pm and Sundays from 9:00am to 5:00pm. The Downtown/Knowledge Park loop will have extended weekend hours until 9:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays, which will be great for people who attend Old Town weekend events like Food Truck Friday and the Summer Concert Series. For more information on bus routes and locations, there are free text opt-ins and a free MyRide mobile app available to download to make your MyRide experience as easy as possible!
Post #4 - Affordable Housing
As a recent college graduate, it’s no secret that I’m not exactly rolling in money. Finding ways to stretch my paychecks can be really hard some weeks. One of my biggest enemies: rent. As a general rule, it’s suggested that you don’t spend more than 30 percent of your monthly gross income on housing. For those who make less than $30,000 annually that makes paying rent without a roommate nearly impossible. As part of my job as an intern, I get to sit in on important meetings, like ones about development plans for downtown. In a recent meeting, a group of developers came to City Hall to give a presentation on what they would like to do to a section of Knowledge Park. I was pleased and, if I’m being honest, actually a little surprised to hear that the directors and managers of City departments were making it a clear point to all developers who come through that any proposed housing not only has to have an affordable market rate, but that they were pushing for low-income housing to be included as well. A huge basis for Knowledge Park’s foundation is inclusivity, no matter what socio-economic background you come from. Having low-income housing mixed in with market rate housing is one way they are trying to keep this foundation solid, and I think it’s a great idea.
To give you some perspective, in York County the average retail cashier makes around $18,700 per year, the average crew worker makes around $27,300 per year, and the average teacher makes around $34,600 per year. For those who only make minimum wage, they would have to work a nearly-impossible 89 hours per week in order to afford one-bedroom housing. Fortunately, the average renter wage in York County is $11.91, meaning rent would be considered affordable around the $619/month mark. However, the monthly market rent for a one-bedroom at some local apartment complexes are: -139 Main/The Anderson: $1,025 -Paces River: $900 -Bradford Park: $855 -Whisper Creek: $825
Ironically, I have lived at the lowest-priced complex listed. While the location is great and the complex is nice, even I still needed two jobs AND a roommate to get by.
Unfortunately, there’s been a negative stigma around the idea of affordable housing for a long time. Groups like HDC (the Housing Development Corporation) are not only working to help make housing more affordable, but they are also working to change the perception around it. Some steps that have already been taken include City Council’s adoption of HDC’s strategic plan back in January 2019 and City Council’s approval of affordable housing as an eligible growth management incentive. But that’s just the beginning. HDC has future plans to rebrand themselves as a way of creating autonomy between themselves and City Council. They plan to expand their non-physical presence by way of creating a website and stating social media platforms, rolling out a new logo, and putting faces to statistics to increase awareness about who HDC serves. It’s your favorite store’s cashiers, it’s your neighborhood’s crew workers, and it’s your children’s teachers. It’s time to start helping those who help us.
HDC is holding a public workshop with City Council on workforce housing on June 24 at 5:00pm in City Hall room 373. The goal of this workshop is to hear the community’s opinion to help develop a broader strategy for making housing more affordable. It’s highly encouraged for the public to attend.
Post #5 - Elk Avenue Project
If you’ve had the pleasure of cutting through the 139 Main apartment complex alleyway then you’ll know that it’s not your typical alleyway. Named Freedom Walkway, the pass-through shows off a beautiful mural and intricate tile within the ground. The artist who laid that tile is the talented Carrie Gault. With over 20 years of experience, and being an expert in mosaics, Gault was the perfect candidate for the Women’s Art Initiative’s third installment on Elk Avenue, which is the walkway that connects Black Street to Main Street.
The newest installment is named “Communication: Endless Possibilities Past, Present, Future.” As the title suggests, this piece is about communication from different time periods. From the first telephone to TVs to computers, technology has always been a huge driver of change in the field of communication. Founded in 1894, Comporium has been one of those drivers of change for Rock Hill specifically, which is why this piece is perfectly located in front of the Comporium Telephone Museum. Gault plans to showcase this theme by building a sculpture of a teacher with her students. Each student will be a different monochromatic hue and will represent a different technological era. In the teacher’s hand is a sphere, meant to represent the potential for the future of technology. The “teacher and her students” concept pays homage to another important part of Rock Hill’s history, which is Winthrop University’s notoriety for having one of
the Southeast’s best teaching programs. Not only will this work of art be aesthetically pleasing, it will also be interactive.
The sphere held in the teacher’s hand will light up and glow at night, and the closer you get to the students you realize that they aren’t just a solid color. The student figures, made up of mosaics, will consist of glazed over newspaper articles and images that came from The Herald or from Rock Hill natives to detail their experiences living in this city. The figures will be slightly larger than life-size to create another level of engagement for photo opportunities.
While sitting in on a meeting where this project was being discussed I thought it was neat to hear how Gault planned to exhibit Rock Hill’s past with her proposed concept. Growing up in Columbia, I was surrounded by a downtown that features lots of public art from murals to sculptures, so I’m excited that organizations like the WAI are guiding Rock Hill through a modern-era renaissance of sorts in an effort to revitalize Old Town and the surrounding areas.
This piece was commissioned by the Women’s Art Initiative, a local group of women who aim to enhance the quality of life through public art.
Post #6 - Summer Kickoff Weekend
Searching for something fun to do without breaking the bank to kick off the first official weekend of summer? Look no further than downtown! This weekend is packed with events to fill your entire weekend with music, food, art, and more!! Old Town will see the following festivities June 20-22:
Lyrics on the Lawn @ the White Home (June 20)
Historic Rock Hill and the Old Town Farmers Market present the second annual Lyrics on the Lawn, which is held on the grounds of the historic White Home every other Thursday evening June - August. This event offers fun for the entire family with music, children's activities, local craft vendors and farmers with fresh produce, flowers and other handmade goods. Each unique event features an array of entertainment and food trucks. VIP seating areas are available, where guests can enjoy private shaded seating, snacks and cold beverages. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcomed. Please, no pets, outside food/beverage or coolers. These events are free to the public and all ages are welcome! Weather permitting. The Farmers Market opens at 5pm and live music starts at 6pm. For more information:
Don’t Sweat It Fest (June 20-22)
This festival wouldn’t be possible without the support of the Arts Council of York County. Their generous lending of the Gettys space as well as a grant helping fund this event make all of this possible. Other sponsors for the festival include Pabst Blue Ribbon and Extra Chill, a regional music blog.
DSIF began in 2011 as a one day festival and has continued every summer since. Every year it has grown, expanded, and evolved into a three day festival that celebrates music, art, community, and summer fun. Hosting 20 bands and 25 visual artists, DSIF is the perfect musical playground for lovers of punk, rock, indie, and hip-hop. The main focus is to celebrate local music, so at least half of the bands come from the Rock Hill/York County area. This year DSIF collaborated with a local arts collective, W.A.M.A. (We Also Make Art), to curate an arts market. W.A.M.A. also has curated a few performance art happenings to go on throughout Friday night and a side stage for the Art Market. Tickets are $15/day or $25/weekend pass. Ticket and beverage sales are Cash Only. There are no online presale tickets, just tickets purchased at the event (all ages). Weekend passes receive a commemorative DSIF 2019 enamel pin. For more information and to see the lineup, check out the following links:
Juneteenth - Rock Hill (June 21-22)
Juneteenth is an annual celebration of freedom. The name comes from combining June and nineteenth, which is representative of a very important date in African American history: the day that slavery ended in Galveston, Texas almost 155 years ago. Celebrating this day is significant because it provides a sense of togetherness for not only African Americans, but for everyone living in America. Friday, June 21 there will be live music and visual performances from four artists, children’s activities, arts, and crafts starting at 6pm in Fountain Park. Saturday, June 22 there will be a free cookout, freedom fest, and talent showcase starting at 11am until 3pm at Mount Prospect Baptist Church. For more information:
Old Town Market @ LRB (June 21)
Every Saturday from 8am to 12pm you can find fresh produce, local meats, and farm fresh products at the Old Town Market, hosted at Legal Remedy Brewing. Products vary by season and by availability. The Old Town Farmers market at LRB runs April through November leading up to the 3rd annual Winter Holiday Market at Christmasville. Note: this is a food-based market—there are no craft vendors participating in this event. For more information:
Food Truck Friday (June 21)
Presented by Williams & Fudge, every third Friday of the month Fountain Park hosts over 25 food trucks, live music, children's activities, and more. Food Truck Friday begins at 6pm and runs until 10pm. This month’s Food Truck event is in conjunction with the first day of Juneteenth. For more information:
Summer Concert Series (June 21)
Presented by Comporium, the summer season’s first concert is being headlined by 5-time Grammy winner Robert Cray, with performances by Marc Cohn, Blind Boys of Alabama, and special guest Shemekia Copeland. All four artists have 12 combined Grammy’s and will perform at the Old Town Amphitheater- a venue big enough to not feel cramped and crowded, but also small enough to give a more intimate, “in your backyard” experience. Gates open at 6pm on June 21. For more information:
Post #7 - All-America City Award
The theme of this year’s All-America City award is “Creating Healthy Communities through Inclusive Civic Engagement.” According to the National Civic League website, the award recognizes the work of communities who use inclusive civic engagement to address critical issues and create stronger connections among residents, businesses and nonprofit and government leaders. Entering this competition allows the communities who entered to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, as well as challenges they face and progress they’ve made. Created in 1949, the award was even nicknamed the “Nobel Prize for constructive citizenship,” so to win this award is a huge honor.
Every year over 500 cities enter the competition in hopes of winning the title, but only 20 make it to the final cut. This year our amazing city made it into the top 20 and was selected as one of 10 cities to take home the title! Since Knowledge Park’s Action Plan was put together by receiving input from ALL parts of the community, are supported by community leadership,
and serves as the basis for activities and investments, Knowledge Park is just one great example of why Rock Hill is a good representation of the All-America City Award. Rock Hill was kindly described as “actively involving residents in determining the community’s future through their citywide strategic planning process, Empowering the Vision, and their economic development plan, Knowledge Park Action Plan” by National Civic League website. A few projects you might be familiar with were cited as reasons why were selected: Impact York County, Miracle Park, and yes, you guessed it, Knowledge Park.
The first and last time Rock Hill entered this competition was in 1969 (and we won, of course).
Congrats to our incredible, dedicated, and tireless city for winning this title and thank you to everyone who worked so hard for us to be able to take it home!
The Event Center is already being booked through 2020 to host speakers, conferences/conventions, athletic programs, and more. The new facility, presented by Piedmont Medical Center, will be a great way to offer healthy living activities as well as cultural and tourism opportunities. It’s also estimated to bring around 3,000 visitors to Rock Hill every weekend! Not that it needs to be said, but this will do wonders for putting Rock Hill businesses in the spotlight, attracting new residents, and keeping old ones.
In addition to the Event center, there is also a small hotel being built in the same development. This is important because it’ll be the first hotel in the downtown area, and will also serve as a great place for visitors to stay within walking distance of the Event Center, Lowenstein, and Old Town.
Post #8 - Sports and Event Center
Driving down White Street you’ll notice that there’s a lot of construction going on next to the Lowenstein Building. Lots of progress has already been made, starting with a brand new parking deck. What’s it for? The soon-to-open Rock Hill Sports and Event Center! Set to open in the fall later this year, the new $25 million sports arena will feature a Championship Court, a Main Court, 8 basketball courts, 16 volleyball courts, and a walking track (available to the public during non-event times). This newest addition, located in University Center, will be just one more way to connect Knowledge Park with Old Town, restaurants, offices, apartments, Winthrop, and more.
Post #9 - Money Diaries of a 21 Year Old
I’m pretty sure everyone at some point in their life has had their spending habits questioned by their parents. “You go out too much” followed by “there’s food at the house” gets old so. dang. quick. So how does a 21 year old in Rock Hill spend their money? Let’s take a look at an honest and slightly embarrassing money tracking experiment I did last week:
Job: Marketing Intern in Economic Development for City Of Rock Hill
Base Income: Roughly $1,460/month
Extra Income: Roughly $800/month waiting tables Fridays and Saturdays
Credit Card: $283
Student Loans: $0
Car Payment: $0
Savings: Sporadic- I usually try to set a goal for my checking and then transfer 20%-30% to savings once I reach that goal
Rent: $530 - I have one roommate
Utilities: Roughly $65
How I spent my money last week:
Monday, July 15:
My minimum payment of $25 on my credit card is due on the the 18th of every month, so I went ahead and paid $50. I had a free sandwich on my Chick Fil A app, so I used it to save some money at lunch, totaling $3.86. I hung out with a friend after work and didn’t feel like cooking, so went to Taco Bell for dinner which was $7.18.
Tuesday, July 16:
I’m lucky enough to have a paid off car (quick shoutout to mom and dad), but I wanted to be conscious of the fact that gas is expensive and other people don’t have cars, and Uber adds up quick. So today I took the bus, which if you recall from a previous post, Rock Hill now has! A bus ride on MyRide from City Hall to my house for lunch at home: $0. For dinner, I was craving a spicy Caesar salad, so I went to Wendy’s, which was $6.19.
Wednesday, July 17:
I wanted to go ahead and gas up since I was heading home to Columbia the next day, plus my car was coincidentally on E, so I spent $15 at the gas station on the way to pick up lunch- $9.90 on a burrito bowl at Moe’s. I justified buying lunch, instead of eating at home like I usually do, by saying I’d have leftovers that I could eat for dinner. As usual, that was a big fat lie to myself, and I ended up spending $9.03 later that night at Subway.
Thursday, July 18:
I went home for lunch and ate the other half of last night’s Subway sandwich (proud of myself for actually eating leftovers- arguably one of my generation’s worst habits)- $0. After work I headed home to Columbia and went out to dinner at Tsunami for sushi with my boyfriend. We went Dutch and split the bill at $19.80 each.
Friday, July 19:
I knew this day was going to be busy AND expensive- two things I wasn’t looking forward to. My day started at 9:30am with an eye doctor appointment, so that was $30. After that I had to spend $55 at the DMV as part of a title transfer fee and new plate fee so that my dad could transfer the title of my car into my name. My dad was a whole blessing and paid the accompanying $200+ property taxes that ALSO came with transferring the title (another shoutout), so I offered to buy lunch at our favorite crepes place downtown, which was $21.12. I came back to Rock Hill that evening after an early birthday celebration dinner with my family and ended up at the bar, which I Ubered home from for $7.32.
Saturday, July 20:
We celebrated my birthday a day early with friends, so obviously I had to get a new shirt for dinner/the party. I was proud of myself because I picked one I liked from the clearance rack for $8.57, so it basically cancels out, right? Ok, I really have to stop lying to myself because I didn’t even end up wearing it to dinner or the bar. I didn’t have to pay for dinner OR for my drinks at the bar, thanks to my friends- so $0. However, I did pay $6.92 for an Uber to the bar and also ended up going ahead and paying my half of the utility bill before I forgot, which was $77.50 for my half.
Sunday, July 21:
Today was my actual birthday! I turned 22 years old and celebrated by getting dinner at Burgers and Barley with a friend and then hanging out at the pool. She treated me to dinner (yet another shoutout)- so $0.
Grand Total: $327.39
I actually made a face when I saw the grand total. To be fair, I don’t usually spend this much money every week. Between the title transfer fees, the eye doctor fee, and my utilities being a little more expensive than they usually are, my weekly total was a good bit higher than a normal week’s spending. Additionally, I don’t go out every weekend (since I work) so I actually rarely spend money on Uber. What I learned is that I DO go out to eat too much, and need to work on putting some of that money into my savings account and grocery shopping more. The title of this post should actually be “Local 21 Year Old Unsurprisingly Spends Entirely Too Much Money On Food.” I also think that I’m a little reckless with money in the “under $10” category because I don’t think of that as being expensive, so I’m quick to swipe my card, which adds up faster than I sometimes realize.
Post #10 - 5 Things To Do In Old Town
Looking for some family fun in Old Town? Check out the following for a (child friendly) night out on the town!
Old Town Frogs – Go on a scavenger hunt for all 10 frogs located around Old Town! Each frog has their own personality and will teach you a little bit about that type of frog. For more information and how to play: https://www.onlyinoldtown.com/oldtownfrogs
Comporium’s Telephone Museum – Have a hands-on learning experience while exploring Rock Hill’s history of communication at the Comporium Telephone Museum. Admission is free and is for all ages; open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. For more information: https://www.visitrockhillsc.com/comporium-telephone-museum
3. Fountain Park – Fountain Park is one of the newest outdoor openings for downtown Rock Hill. If the weather is nice, have a picnic by the fountain or take a stroll to check out all the flowers and pretty plants. You can even catch a movie as part of Movies in the Park on August 23 or grab a bite to eat at Food Truck Friday on August 16! For more information:
4. Nailed It – Wanting to explore your creative side? Find out if your kid is the next Picasso by signing up for a fun night at Nailed It DIY Studio downtown. For more information:
5. York County Library – From movies and story time to piano labs and chess club, the York County Library has a plethora of event offerings that cater to kids of all ages with all interests. For more information, check out the entire calendar here: http://yclibrary.evanced.info/signup/?df=calendar&et=6,7,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17
Post #11 - Another Knowledge Economy Business in Rock Hill!
COLUMBIA, S.C. – DIRTT Environmental Solutions, Inc., an interior construction company that uses technology for client-driven design and manufacturing, today announced plans to establish operations in York County. The $18.5 million investment is expected to create more than 100 jobs.
The company uses its proprietary ICE® software to design, manufacture and install fully-customized interior environments. The technology drives DIRTT Environmental Solutions, Inc.’s advanced manufacturing and provides certainty on cost, schedule and the final result.
Located at Legacy East Business Park in Rock Hill, S.C., DIRTT Environmental Solutions, Inc.’s York County operations include the development of a new tile and millwork manufacturing facility and a DIRTT Experience Center (DXC), showcasing the company’s interior construction solutions.
Construction of the company’s new 130,000-square-foot facility is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2020, with commercial operations
commencing in 2021. Individuals interested in joining the DIRTT Environmental
Solutions, Inc. team should visit https://www.dirtt.com/careers/.
FIVE FAST FACTS
• DIRTT Environmental Solutions, Inc. is establishing operations in York County.
• $18.5 million investment will create more than 100 new jobs.
• DIRTT Environmental Solutions, Inc. is an interior construction company that uses technology for client-driven design and manufacturing.
• Located at Legacy East Business Park in Rock Hill, S.C., the company’s York County operations will serve as a new wood tile and millwork manufacturing facility.
• Individuals interested in joining the DIRTT Environmental Solutions, Inc. team should visit
Post #12 - Update on the Elk Ave Art Project
The Elk Ave art project, Communication: Endless Possibilities, Past, Present and Future, held an event on 1/28/20 to celebrate the unveiling of the figures! There are still just a few small touches left until the art project is complete, but it's now available for the public to see! Artist Carrie Gault has done an amazing job so far at making the vision we wanted to see come to life. Once complete, the project will a fun and interactive piece of art that celebrates the history of Rock Hill.
This piece was commissioned by the Women’s Art Initiative, a local group of women who aim to enhance the quality of life through public art.