Greenville’s textile mills were once the lifeblood of a thriving local economy. Today, many of them lie vacant and decayed. One of these underutilized spaces is Woodside Mill, once the largest cotton mill under one roof in the world. Now, thanks to the work of GRC, the mill’s former office building has been given a new lease on life. This new project not only uplifts the surrounding neighborhoods but is redirecting the future of the community’s underserved youth.
In 2015, GRC purchased and renovated the mill’s abandoned 8,500 square foot office building. While seeking a tenant who would put the historic building to best use, GRC found a promising candidate in Goodwill Industries. Goodwill had recently launched an innovative program called YouthBuild Greenville, thanks in part to a $1.08 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The program provides at-risk teens with six months of occupational training, paid work experience, academic help and community service opportunities. Once completed, the program helps participants secure employment or post-secondary education.
Writing the Next Chapter of Greenville’s History
Inspired by the program’s vision, GRC reached out to Goodwill and agreed to a three-year lease for the building. GRC renovated the old structure and transformed it into a center for hands-on learning.
Today, the program’s inaugural participants have graduated and new participants are enrolled. Armed with new skills and opportunities, they’re setting out to write the next chapter in Greenville’s economic story. The program is already a picture of the power of second chances – not just for the students, but also for the historic building their program calls home.