Hi-tech areas are something most Americans are familiar with; case-in-point, the Silicon Valley of California, the richest and most prominent hi-tech area in the United States and arguably, the world. Other hi-tech areas in the country that are greatly contributing towards the U.S. as a leader in hi-tech are two hotspots; the famed Research Triangle in North Carolina, and the lesser known but rapidly rising manufacturing/research and development area in South Carolina, known as the Upstate South Carolina Alliance. It is this hi-tech area that I'm writing about today, not only for it's own merit, but I must admit, I am quite proud of the fact that it's close to where I live. In fact, my front yard is 90 minutes from Greenville, SC, the center of the Alliance.
Upstate South Carolina Alliance Staff
The Alliance should be remembered in two respects, the physical area of the state with the companies, and the organization which helps fuel it. The Alliance involves a team of dedicated staff members who actively pursue educational, developmental, and marketing venues for bringing in new companies and the associated commerce to the state and nation. They also address Alliance issues and problems of the companies, which are many and varied. The staff, headquartered in Greenville, have done an incredible job in developing the Upstate Alliance and they need to be recognized and applauded for their efforts.
The Upstate South Carolina Alliance is comprised of U.S. and foreign companies located in ten counties in the northwestern corner of the state, known as the Upstate area of the state, and it's certainly no accident the Alliance developed there. The Upstate has long been the hub of the South Carolina textile industry, with several of the top producers located in Greenville, the official headquarters for the Alliance. With convenient access to auto, rail, and air resources, the Alliance is well suited for the manufacturing and R&D sectors of the high-technology industry, and in fact, these sectors are the bread-and-butter of the Alliance.
Upstate South Carolina Alliance Resources
Strategically, the Upstate South Carolina Alliance could not be in a better spot, being located in the center of the Interstate-85 travel path between Atlanta and Charlotte, two of the largest cities in the Southeastern United States. The Upstate Alliance has the educational resources of some of the finest universities in the country close by as well. Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, and nearby regional technical colleges, provide more than enough resources for training, research and development, and mentorship know-how talent to fuel this rapidly growing hi-tech area. In the public arena, support for the Alliance include the South Carolina counties of Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg, and Union, involving 6,000 square miles and well over one million people. Private sector support involve over 150 investors, including but not limited to business services, construction, and education. The state capital, Columbia, is only 100 miles away, and its close proximety with the state government and the governor, Nikki Haley, certainly provides an added dimension of resource support to the Alliance cause.
Upstate South Carolina Alliance Hi-tech Sectors
The five primary hi-tech sectors of the Alliance include Advanced Materials, Aerospace, Automotive, Biosciences, and Energy. Many of the associated companies in these sectors have attracted world attention and are involved in worldwide commerce because of their expertise and innovation in their respective field. Some of the largest companies in the Upstate South Carolina Alliance include BMW Manufacturing, Duke Energy, Electrolux, Fluor, Fuji Film, General Electric, Kohler, Lockheed Martin Aircraft and Logistics, Milliken, Michelin North America, Nestle USA, Robert Bosch, Sealed Air Corporation – Cryovac, Timken Company, Wal-Mart Distribution, and having said that, it needs to be understood that the Alliance is not trying to attract only large companies. In fact, the Alliance committee staff, headquartered in Greenville, are actively marketing to small companies that wish to bring their headquarters, manufacturing, distribution, and back office facilities to the area in the Alliance's sectors.
South Carolina Business Statistics
Here are some statistics on why the Upstate South Carolina Alliance has been so successful and will continue to do so. Let's consider the effect on business in general in reference to a 2012 study which found that South Carolina:
- Ranked #2 as the top states for doing business
- Ranked #2 for competitive labor costs
- Ranked #2 for leading work force development
- Ranked #3 for cost of doing business
- Ranked #5 for corporate tax environment
Since 2011, the state has brought in over $9 billion in capital investment and over 20,000 jobs in manufacturing, and over $5 billion and in excess of 8,000 jobs in the automotive sector.
Upstate South Carolina Alliance Growth
Since the 1990's, the Alliance area has experienced 27% population growth and I do not see that trend changing. It's exciting to watch our manufacturing industry experience this phenonmenal growth and I know I'm not the only one who wants to see the United States regain it's status as a manufacturing leader. We need more support at the Federal level and our leaders in Congress must focus on the country's massive resources of talent, technology, and entrepreneurial spirit; oh, what we can do as a country when we pool all of that together and use it to regain world prominence. South Carolina may be small in size but it is big in heart; it's innovation and thinking "outside the box" has taken it to the forefront of the manufacturing industry. Keep your eye on this state; it is moving on!