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Upstate SC Alliance positions 10-county region to excel in the global economy

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By Danielle Besser, Communications and Engagement Manager, Upstate SC Alliance

Consuls General from around the world. Site selection consultants. Business leaders considering new locations.

President and CEO John Lummus presides over on of Upstate SC Alliance's events. (Photo/Provided)Many of these influencers come to the Upstate each year to explore the case for doing business here — welcomed, and often invited by, the Upstate SC Alliance. 

The group is a public-private nonprofit formed in 2000 with the mission of positioning the region to succeed in the global economy.

What does that mean?

“At the Upstate SC Alliance, we wake up every day thinking about the region’s future,” says Upstate SC Alliance President and CEO John Lummus. That means everything from crunching data to identifying target industries to charting trends that affect our business landscape.

From 2011 to 2020, companies announced $17.3 billion in new business investment and more than 49,200 jobs within the 10-county region. Of those, 51.8% were new company locations — and 61.3% of the investment came from international companies.

“The gains the Upstate region has seen are a result of tremendous vision and leadership,” says Lummus. “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.”

And businesses are not the only ones competing. Communities vie to attract employers and career opportunities based on criteria like proximity to markets, talent availability, corporate tax rates and energy costs, and infrastructure.

So, what brings companies to our region of 1.5 million?

“Our region’s location between Atlanta and Charlotte, with connectivity assets like the Inland Port and GSP International Airport. The region’s 26-plus colleges and universities, the depth of our engineering talent. And beyond the quantifiable, we sell the real-world examples of the collaborative spirit that drives us to create solutions to business challenges,” Lummus said.

Examples of collaborative solutions dot the region, from BMW and Michelin scholarship programs to Fountain Inn High School’s Institute of Automation & Engineering to the Workforce Development Campus in Oconee County.

More examples: Move Up, an Upstate Alliance-led talent recruitment initiative, with marketing campaigns, a job board, and tools and information designed to support Upstate employers’ recruiting efforts. The site averages more than 7,400 visitors each month, with 1.1-plus paid media impressions and 1.6-plus social media impressions.

A team approach

The Alliance works alongside the SC Department of Commerce, along with city and county economic development groups, to pursue companies in industries of automotive, aerospace, engineered materials, and life sciences industries, and food processing. And there’s growing emphasis on recruiting technology, knowledge economy jobs, and fostering entrepreneurship.

Within the region, the Alliance is a regional convener, providing a sounding board for local economic developers and a forum for collaboration, all backed by research support. Relationships are key, too, since more than 180 private companies fund the organization’s work. As a benefit of their support, investors receive networking opportunities and access to research, programs and market insights, with a long-term role in shaping the region’s growth strategy.

Interested in learning more: Email Lauren Scoggins at or call 864-283-2305 to discuss how your company can get involved.

This content appeared originally in GSA Business Report’s Book of Experts.

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