Spartanburg County business leaders told to expect growth in 2017


Spartanburg County business leaders were told Friday, Feb. 3, the local economy will continue to grow in 2017 despite a few challenges at the national level.

Tim Quinlan, senior economist with Wells Fargo Bank, spoke at the Spartanburg Area Chamber’s annual Economic Forecast Breakfast hosted by the University of South Carolina Upstate.

Quinlan said the county continues to attract international companies, and single-family home building is near an all-time high, driven by strong job growth.

“Most of South Carolina’s larger metro areas are seeing a pickup in growth,” he said. “Spartanburg is expanding.”

Energy has been a significant drag on business investment since oil prices collapsed, Quinlan said.

Capital spending has slowed more broadly during the current fiscal year and oil prices are expected to trend higher toward about $60 per barrel.

Quinlan said the national labor market is firming and the unemployment rate is in line with the Federal Open Market Committee’s central tendency target.

The national budget deficit was $587 billion during the 2016 fiscal year due to lower revenue growth that was impacted by volatile tax sources, such as corporate income taxes and non-withholding income tax receipts, he said.

South Carolina has outpaced the national average for job growth, Quinlan said. And the growth is shifting toward higher-paying industries. The largest growth is anticipated to occur in the construction and professional services sectors, with manufacturing not far behind.

Todd Horne, chairman of the Spartanburg Chamber, said since the start of 2014, $3.2 billion has been invested in the county, which is more than one-third of total amount invested in the state during that period.

Horne said since 2011, an average of 29 jobs have been created and more than $16 million invested in the county per week.

Since 2013, downtown Spartanburg has attracted $102 million in investment, 70 new businesses and 185 residential units, he said.

Carter Smith, vice president of the Economic Futures Group, said 13 projects worth more than $555 million in new investment and about 1,300 new jobs were announced in 2016. He said 83 percent of those projects were new, while 17 percent were expansions.

Smith said the project pipeline is healthy and he expects more positive developments to be announced during the coming year.

Chris Jennings, executive vice president of the Spartanburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, said 2016 was a banner year for tourism in the county. He expects activity to continue to be steady in 2017.

The Spartanburg Chamber introduced Meagan Rethmeier as executive vice president of its One Spartanburg group, which was formed to help implement the community’s new vision plan. Rethmeier previously served as director of entrepreneurial development for the Economic Futures Group.

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