The Spark: Happenings in Upstate Biz with Trevor Anderson

Three years of economic growth has paid dividends in Spartanburg


Momentum is a word used to describe the force gained by a body in motion. Just up the road from Greenville, Spartanburg County leaders are using the term to describe the cultural and economic renaissance that has been unfolding in this community during the past few years.

At a recent groundbreaking ceremony for United Community Bank’s new headquarters at downtown Spartanburg’s eastern gateway, Allen Smith, president and CEO of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce shared his thoughts:

“I get the question all of the time, ‘Where will Spartanburg be in three years?’” Smith said. “I often wonder what would the reaction be if I got the same question in January 2015 and answered it like this.”

Smith proceeded to tell his audience, composed of project officials and local business leaders, that the county has attracted $1.91 billion in new investment since the start of 2015. When the $2.4 billion invested in the county by the likes BMW and Toray in 2014 is added to the equation, it means Spartanburg has drawn more than $4.3 billion in new investment in less than four years.

Those projects have resulted in thousands of job opportunities for Upstate residents in Spartanburg and beyond.

Smith referenced the new $20 million AC Hotel Spartanburg that recently opened in downtown. The hotel, owned by Spartanburg’s Johnson family and developed and operated by Spartanburg-based OTO Development, is South Carolina’s first hotel to open under the banner of Marriott’s premium AC brand.

He mentioned the $29 million redevelopment of Spartanburg’s historic Montgomery Building and the $10.5 million renovation of its Aug W. Smith Building. Greenville developers are leading both projects.

Smith cited the new Starbucks under construction in the former Pink on Main space. He talked about Greenville restaurateur Rick Erwin’s two new restaurants, including The Standard: A Refined Kitchen at Drayton Mills Marketplace and Level 10 atop AC Hotel Spartanburg.

Drayton Mills has been redeveloped into a vibrant mixed-use community with 289 luxury apartments and several new dining and retail options. The opening of Hub City Hospitality’s new FR8 Yard in downtown elevates Spartanburg’s dining scene to a level occupied by communities such as Dallas and Chicago.

The Children’s Museum of the Upstate will soon open a Spartanburg branch on Magnolia Street, a downtown corridor that is poised for future growth.

Voters in Spartanburg School District 7 passed a $185 million referendum and in District 2 a $120 million referendum for new high schools. Residents also recently approved a countywide $224 million referendum for a new courthouse, the state’s only city-county joint municipal complex, an emergency operations center, and two parking garages.

Spartanburg developer Royce Camp’s new multiuse building is under construction at the corner of West Main and Daniel Morgan Avenue, and the $1 million expansion of RJ Rockers Brewing Co.’s downtown brewery will accommodate the addition of a new restaurant The Silo.

Tampa developer Forge Capital Partners hopes to build a $30 million, 200-unit apartment community near the Chapman Cultural Center. Spartanburg businessmen Jimmy Gibbs and Andrew Cajka plan to build a multimillion-dollar, five-story, 70,000-square-foot mixed-use building beside the University of South Carolina Upstate’s George Dean Johnson Jr. College of Business and Economics in downtown Spartanburg.

The community recently celebrated the first anniversary of its OneSpartanburg vision plan, a five-year cultural and economic development strategy.

Northside Development Group, an entity powered by passionate Spartanburg residents, local financial institutions, government agencies, and other entities, has continued to move forward with the redevelopment of the city’s north side.

“If I would’ve answered that question that way in January of 2015, the person would’ve said, ‘It’s time to go see a psychiatrist,’” Smith said. “The fact of the matter is, that is indeed our economic reality today in Spartanburg.”

If the next few years are anything like the past three, Spartanburg’s momentum and portfolio of prospective projects are positioned to make its future economic reality even more dreamy.



Related Articles