A look at Upstate economic development in 2021

    Written by: Danielle Besser, Communications & Engagement Manager, Upstate SC Alliance

    As the end of each year approaches, people excitedly ask the Upstate SC Alliance team to report on the capital investment and jobs announced within the Upstate.

    Although a final tally of the Upstate’s 2021 announcements won’t be available until Local Economic Development Offices close out their reports, there’s a lot we can glean from the headlines.

    “We’re having a good year in creating jobs,” Upstate Alliance President & CEO John Lummus shared during a Dec. 2 TATT Chat. Year-to-date announcements through the end of November indicate the region will surpass $1.88 billion in new capital investment and more than 6,500 new jobs. (Note: you can explore Upstate announcements here.)

    One big takeaway: existing industries are speaking volumes with their growth in the region – with just over half of the Upstate’s announcements coming from existing employers.

    That’s especially important when it comes to continued job creation. For example, Lockheed Martin’s 300 new jobs in Greenville, Arthrex’s 500 new jobs in Anderson, and ZF’s 500 new jobs in Laurens. Yes, workforce is tight, though these companies have global operations – they can choose to grow wherever they want – and they continue to choose our location. That’s a strong endorsement for the Upstate’s workforce.

    And nothing sells the region better than a company success story.

    So how do we get these stories in front of new businesses?

    “What we try to go is get Upstate South Carolina noticed across the country and across the world,” Lummus said. One big measure of the team’s impact: nationwide searches of “Upstate South Carolina” increased 22% and averaged 4,400 searches per month from December 2018-December 2020.

    We attribute that increase to a combination of our strategic digital marketing initiatives – both to recruit businesses and through our Move Up talent initiative, intended to connect Upstate employers with talent. And it’s furthered by the work of our global engagement and business recruitment teams, the region’s economic developers, the SC Department of Commerce, and the multiplying effect of our 180+ investors.

    “The heart of what we do is building relationships,” Lummus said. “It was true before the pandemic, and it’s become even more important since.”

    Those relationships include:

    • Site selectors, which are individuals or firms that are hired by companies to find new site locations. Lummus shared that about 50% of current projects are being led by site consultants.
    • International trade offices, including the Consular representatives based in Atlanta who connect their home countries with the United States. We maintain strong relationships with Western Europe, where our deepest business connections remain, with companies like Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Ireland. Though in an early 2021 virtual event, representatives from 19 countries Zoomed in to learn about the region.
    • Industry leaders and Upstate companies, who can keep us dialed into us with trends, insights, their own business connections, and who share how the Upstate has proven a successful location for them.

    “The gains the Upstate region has seen are a result of tremendous vision and leadership,” Lummus added. “And that vision remains important today. Between pandemic uncertainty, supply chain challenges, technology altering how we conduct business, the rise of electric mobility and increased attention to sustainability, we have to keep our eye on innovation to maintain our competitive edge.”

    Interested in learning more? Contact Lauren Scoggins, lscoggins@upstatealliance.com, to see how your company can join our efforts.