The Spark: Happenings in Upstate Biz with Trevor Anderson

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During Upstate SC Alliance’s annual meeting held Tuesday, March 27, at the TD Center in Greenville, guest speaker Jennifer Fletcher referenced a blast from the region’s past. Fletcher, who serves as deputy secretary for the South Carolina Department of Commerce, recalled a marketing campaign entitled “I Was Blown Away,” unveiled almost 10 years ago to the day at the Thornblade Club.

The campaign, developed by BMW Charity Pro-Am organizers, Upstate SC Alliance, and Erwin-Penland, sought to promote the region as a great place to live, work, and play during the Golf Channel’s coverage of the annual golf tournament.

At the announcement, a former board member of S.C. Charities Inc., the Pro-Am’s host organization, said the campaign was tied to his group’s mission of giving back to the region, not by raising funds, but by “raising collaboration.”

That word, collaboration, really got me thinking. Each of the 10 counties of the Upstate is unique in terms of their histories, communities, topography, people, businesses, cultural and economic assets, and challenges.

In decades past, groups or individuals within each county worked apart from each other in their quest for growth.

But something has changed.

Max Metcalf, outgoing chairman of Upstate SC Alliance and manager of government and community relations for BMW Manufacturing Co., pointed out recently that collaboration has been on the rise during the past few years. One needn’t look any further than GSP Airport, the Inland Port in Greer, or Clemson University for evidence.

“This regional approach,” Metcalf said, “may be what has moved South Carolina forward as a state; we’re seeing that what happens in one community really does benefit its neighbors.”

Upstate SC Alliance said the region has landed 376 projects during the past five years, resulting in $10.35 billion in new investment and the creation of 27,967 jobs.

Winning on the national and global stage requires teamwork, not the efforts of a few individuals.

If this is what collaboration can do in five years, imagine what’s possible in the next 10 to 20 years and beyond.

In case you missed it:

GSP traffic continues to ascend

The Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport said its passenger traffic increased 7 percent in January to 154,489 flyers, compared with 144,635 during the same month of 2017. The airport’s cargo numbers jumped nearly 35 percent during the month.

Greenwood gets funds for Advanced Manufacturing Training Center

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced his department’s Economic Development Administration will award a $1.5 million grant to Piedmont Technical College for a new building that will house the Upstate Center for Manufacturing Excellence on the college’s Greenwood campus. The project is expected to create 86 jobs and result in more than $16 million in private investment.

S.C. Ports Authority’s record volume streak continues

The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) reported a fiscal year-to-date volume record of more than 1.4 million 20-foot equivalent (TEU) containers handled since July. SCPA said container volume grew more than 1 percent in February to 168,480 units, compared with the same month of 2017. The fiscal year-to-date volume record extended to the authority’s Inland Port Greer, as the facility handled 10,440 rail moves in February. Its volumes have increased 5 percent for the year to 76,748 rail moves since July.

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