Benson’s $2 million cash gift is the largest ever received by the Greenville Tech Foundation. In addition, he also pledged an additional $1 million to be paid over five years. In recognition of both gifts, the campus has been renamed and Building 302 will bear the names of Evelyn and Jim Benson.
“Greer will continue to grow in the next ten years and that will put a greater emphasis on this campus,” Jim Benson said. “I love Greenville Tech for the work they do.
“Every kid doesn’t need a great college education, they need to learn job skills. We (Greenville Tech) get them trained with our top techs and mechanics and they earn $50,000 a year,” Benson said. “These kids take their job skills learned at Greenville Tech and become business owners who contribute back to the community.”
Keith Miller, president of Greenville Technical College, said Benson’s vision, as a 10-year board member, helps the campus to meet the demands in the changing job skills. “We had the people who planned our teaching facilities 15 years ago to look at employment and careers and projected new careers. That is where this (Greer campus) came about,” Miller said.
“This (Benson’s gift) absolutely plays into that vision. The other part is the business community and health care community is growing rapidly. We’re poised to address that growth,” Miller said. “As health care, manufacturing or retail businesses change, it’s incumbent on us to change.”
The money will be used to improve the campus and to expand facilities to better serve the students of greater Greer.
Miller said Greer has become home to the world’s biggest names in business including BMW Manufacturing and Mitsubishi Polyester Film. The Inland Port has been called a “game changer” in Greer’s economic future and the $120 million Greenville-Spartanburg Airport expansion and renovation is projected to serve more than 2 million passengers in 2030.
Reno Deaton, executive director of Greer Economic Development, already was considering the impact of Benson’s gift. It means adding another bullet point to Deaton’s already impressive presentation.
“It helps to insure Greer has a competitive and skillful work force,” Deaton said. “As “One of the great things about Greer is how different organizations work together.”
Introducing Benson, Les Gardner. Development Manager at Greenville Tech Foundation, pointedly addressed new Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce President Mark Owens, suggesting that better things are ahead for Greer. “Mr. Gardner told me when I was first hired that Greer will keep moving forward," Owens said.
Deaton and Owens separately mirrored comments when reacting to Benson, a Greer native, making the biggest cash donation ever to Greenville Technical College.
“Ever,” Deaton and Owens said. “Ever”.