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The national economy has continued to experience steady growth and with more companies electing to do business in the U.S., there is a growing need for highly skilled labor to meet the demand for American-made goods. In fact, recent executive surveys by Area Development magazine have shown that the availability of skilled labor has become the No. 1 factor in site selection.

The state of South Carolina ranks atop many lists as one of the best in the nation when it comes to filling that need thanks to training programs like readySC and Apprenticeship Carolina, and here in Upstate South Carolina, our pipeline of 30+ institutions of higher learning helps produce a high concentration of architectural and engineering talent, mechatronic specialists, team assemblers and metal workers, and machinists and fabricators.

While the region continues to prosper from our reputation for producing highly-skilled labor, industry leaders in Upstate South Carolina understand the critical need to foster the growth of the next generation workforce. The foundation for tomorrow’s workforce starts with the advancement of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education, which prepares students for the modern workplaces of the present and future.

To help students understand how STEM-related skills can be applied in a number of exciting ways, a collective group of Upstate South Carolina leaders have created an innovative way to showcase the world of STEM. iMAGINE Upstate is a weeklong series of crowd-sourced programs and signature events designed to promote cultural and economic development with a celebration and showcase of STEM, innovation and entrepreneurial activity in Upstate South Carolina. The program will kick off on March 28th, 2015 with the CU-ICAR 2nd Annual Millennium Drive Car & Cruise and will capstone with a family-friendly festival in downtown Greenville on Saturday, April 4th, 2015.

iMAGINE Upstate was created to generate ‘Aha’ moments that will inspire students in South Carolina,” said Ryan Heafy, Executive Director of iMAGINE Upstate. “With over half of the STEM-related workforce reaching retirement in the next five to ten years, it is critical that we have skilled employees ready to fill the demand.”

(S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley talks about iMAGINE Upstate's innovative approach to ‎education through STEM and entrepreneurship in South Carolina.)


Together with partners such as Duke Energy, Michelin, Bosch, Greenville Technical College, BMW, Tri-County Technical College and more, iMAGINE Upstate will work to educate students, families and young professionals about the opportunities available in STEM-related work fields and drive sustainable change in our educational system by igniting an interest in STEM programs outside of the classroom. 

“Every dollar we contribute to education is an investment in the future of the Upstate,” said Clark Gillespy, president for South Carolina for Duke Energy, the largest electrical power holding company in the United States. “Supporting effective education programs and initiatives that emphasize STEM is a critical focus for Duke Energy. We are proud to be part of this exciting venture with iMAGINE Upstate and look forward to seeing firsthand students get excited about energy, math and science. Programs like this lay the foundation for our future leaders in these fields.”

“As an industry, it is our collective task to spark an interest in science and technology among students at a young age, and nurture this interest as they grow,” said Mike Mansuetti, president of Robert Bosch LLC. “The iMAGINE Upstate events bring innovation, creativity and science to South Carolina families, and Bosch is excited to share in the celebration.”

The week-long celebration will feature a number of crowd-sourced programs, workshops, presentations, competitions and events, each designed to support iMAGINE Upstate’s six core program tracks—learn, engage, create, innovate, launch and make.

The festival, running from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on April 4th, will include more than 50 tents lining Main Street in downtown Greenville in addition to several featured stages, including:

  • Robotics Demo at the Bosch INNOVATE Stage 
  • Roper Mountain Science Center Show at the GE Power & Water ENGAGE Stage 
  • Brooks Brothers Workforce of the Future Fashion Show at the Fluor CREATE Stage 
  • AJ Whittenburg Hovercraft Experience at the Greenville Technical College LEARN Stage 
  • The Children's Museum of the Upstate Experience at the Michelin MAKE Stage 
  • The iMAGINE Challenge: An Interactive Game Show at the iMAGINE Upstate LAUNCH Stage 


“Being part of iMAGINE Upstate is more than participating in a festival,” said Leesa Owens, community relations representative for Michelin North America. “This is a chance to invest in the Upstate and our students. We want to inspire the next generation of designers, engineers and innovators.”

To further the conversation and create growing interest in STEM and innovation, iMAGINE Upstate has also launched a student awareness campaign entitled “You Decide.” Student and industry leaders can participate by using the hashtag “#Udecide” on social media.

To learn more about the iMAGINE Upstate and the upcoming festival, visit

Those interested in volunteering for the downtown festival can sign up at

Read More about STEM in Upstate South Carolina:

Looking at the Future of STEM: A Q&A with CU-ICAR Automotive Engineering Instructor Dee Kivett

How We Should Imagine the Future of STEM Education

Monday marked yet another milestone in the Upstate’s mission to provide the automotive, transportation, and other high-tech sectors with a highly-skilled workforce with the groundbreaking of the Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI), a $25 million collaboration between Clemson University and Greenville Technical College.

Local and state officials, including Governor Nikki Haley, several Upstate advanced manufacturers, Greenville County Council, and other leaders, attended Monday’s groundbreaking.

While the Upstate already has a strong pipeline for developing a modern day labor force, the primary goal of the CMI is to further increase the number of skilled workers available to Upstate manufacturers, helping to close the skills gap many manufacturers may face.

Per the official press release announcing the groundbreaking:

“The Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI) will be located at the Millennium Campus adjacent to the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) Technology Neighborhood 1, offering education designed to meet industry needs including dual credit programs in partnership with Greenville County Schools, programs that allow a student to move from associate degree to bachelor’s degree, and workforce training and certificate programs that increase the qualifications of manufacturing employees.

The CMI will provide for deeper integration with the K-12 sector, with options for coursework starting in K-12 that will transition to GTC and then to Clemson. Modularized instruction will allow additional flexibility in entry and exit points. A Manufacturing Honors College is expected to be the first of its kind. In addition, students will benefit from internships and apprenticeships, allowing students to gain practical experience working alongside experienced engineers, faculty, and staff.

The location of CMI along with the partnership with Clemson University will provide for joint learning opportunities between associate and graduate level students. Project based instruction will mimic current manufacturing scenarios when engineering technicians and engineers must work side by side to solve problems critical to advanced manufacturing processes.

The center will engage K-12 students and show them the possibilities that exist in advanced manufacturing careers through dual enrollment programs, tours, camps, and open houses. The Center for Manufacturing Innovation will be designed, literally, to change negative perceptions about manufacturing, with architectural features that engage from the first moment. The entryway will provide observation points where a visitor can view simulated advanced manufacturing environments, and interactive displays will educate and entertain.”

(Governor Nikki Haley speaks at the groundbreaking for the Center for Manufacturing Innovation - image courtesy of Ken Osburn Photography/Greenville Technical College)


For more information on the workforce in Upstate South Carolina, visit For more information on the Center for Manufacturing Innovation, visit

In honor of National Manufacturing Day, we would like to thank the 1,400-plus manufacturers that call Upstate South Carolina home. Supported by these companies, the Upstate is consistently ranked as one of the top states for doing business in the United States and the region’s leadership role in the manufacturing renaissance has played a part in that success. Consider the following facts about manufacturing in Upstate South Carolina:


  • Manufacturing accounts for over 96,000 jobs in the Upstate, representing over 17% of the region’s labor force.
  • Two of the top five employers in the Upstate, Michelin and BMW, are automotive manufacturers that together produce more than 16,000 jobs.
  • More than 150 automotive-related companies, including BMW, Michelin, ZF Group, Proterra, BorgWarner and more, have chosen to do business in the Upstate.
  • The Upstate is home to more than 50 aviation and aerospace-related companies, including GE Aviation, Parker Hannifin TechSeal Division, Lockheed Martin and Champion Aerospace.
  • From 2007-2010, companies in medical devices and equipment added 15% more jobs and 13% more companies in South Carolina.
  • Manufacturing accounted for 17.3 percent of the state GDP in South Carolina in 2013 according to figures published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis and 24/7 Wall St.


It’s clear that Upstate South Carolina has grown to become a global center for manufacturing success and we look forward to continue to celebrate the many accomplishments of this region and its partners.


For more information on how businesses can take utilize the many advantages of the Upstate, visit


Expansion to add advanced manufacturing, enhance capacity

Electrolux is investing $30 million over the next two years in its Anderson, S.C. manufacturing facility, which provides top-freezer refrigerators as well as under-the-counter models. The investment will add advanced manufacturing capability and enhance capacity. This new investment is in addition to the more than $30 million the company has invested in the Anderson facility since 2011, which included the Refrigeration Research and Development Center as well as other improvements. The Electrolux plant in Anderson is 810,000 square feet and is situated on 225 acres. It employs 1,900 full-time and contract employees and produces one out of every two top-freezer refrigerators shipped in North America. Electrolux is a global leader in home appliances, which it manufactures under brand names including Electrolux, AEG, Zanussi, Frigdaire and Electrolux Grand Cuisine. The Electrolux Group sells more than 50 million products to customers in more than 150 markets every year. QUOTES "Our primary focus at Electrolux is on the development of new innovation, based on consumer insight that delivers high-quality products our consumers depend on. We make award-winning products at this plant and our investment will drive future growth while also positively impacting our local base of employees and the communities we call home here in South Carolina." -Jack Truong, president & CEO of Electrolux Major Appliances North America "Electrolux is a great employer and corporate citizen in South Carolina. We congratulate them on their additional $30 million investment in Anderson - a sure sign of their continuing commitment to our state." -Gov. Nikki Haley "It is always exciting to see one of our state's long-standing companies continue to grow here. Electrolux's presence in South Carolina - which spans a quarter of a century - adds to the list of globally respected, household names that call the Palmetto State home." -Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt "Anderson County is proud that Electrolux has been part of our community for the past 25 years. This new investment reflects the company's commitment to making the highest quality products and to providing jobs in our community." -Tommy Dunn, chairman of Anderson County Council "Continued investment by Electrolux in their Anderson facility is testimony to the company's confidence in our labor force and the county's pro-business mindset. We offer congratulations, thanks and well wishes for many years of success in Anderson County." -Eddie Moore, member of Anderson County Council (District 3) FIVE FAST FACTS

  • Electrolux is investing another $30 million over the next two years in it Anderson, S.C. manufacturing facility.
  • The Anderson plant produces top-freezer refrigerators as well as under-the-counter models.
  • The company employs 1,900 full-time and contract employees in Anderson.
  • The company produces one out of every two top-freezer refrigerators shipped in North America.
  • Since 2011, Electrolux has already invested more than $30 million in Anderson, including the Refrigeration Research and Development (R&D) Center.

About Electrolux Electrolux is a global leader in home appliances, based on deep consumer insight and developed in close collaboration with professional users. We offer thoughtfully designed, innovative solutions for households and businesses, with products such as refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, cookers, vacuum cleaners, air conditioners and small domestic appliances. Under esteemed brands including Electrolux, Frigidaire, AEG, Zanussi and Electrolux Grand Cuisine, the Group sells more than 50 million products to customers in more than 150 markets every year. In 2013, Electrolux had sales of $16.7 billion ($5.3 billion in North America) and 61,000 employees. The Electrolux North American headquarters is located at 10200 David Taylor Drive, Charlotte, N.C. 28262 in the University Research Park. For more information, go to

In 2015, more than 280,000 vehicles were exported from its South Carolina plant, over 70% of the plant’s total volume.

BMW Manufacturing Co. announced today that the export value of its passenger vehicles through the Port of Charleston in 2015 totaled $9.8 Billion, confirming the company’s South Carolina facility as the leading U.S. automotive exporter by value. 

Read the full press release here: BMW Manufacturing’s 2015 Export Value Reaches Nearly $10 Billion


2015 was another banner year in economic development for the Upstate region of South Carolina. Our 9 member counties gained $1.291 billion in capital investment, announced 76 total projects and created 6,471 new jobs.

2015 Milestones:

  • Each UA member county in the region announced at least one project
  • The highest number of annual jobs created since the UA began tracking in 2007 (6,471)
  • Second highest annual number of announcements since 2007 (76)
  • The highest total number of announcements from international companies since 2007 (30)

Over the last 10 years, the Upstate region has totaled $14.801 billion in new investment and 47,116 new jobs!

We owe this success to the teamwork displayed by our city and county local developers, along with the South Carolina Department of Commerce for supporting our efforts.

Volvo Cars Corp. announced that it has chosen South Carolina as the site for its first U.S. plant, outlining a plan to build a $500 million plant in Berkeley County. The announcement further solidifies the state of South Carolina’s reputation as a leader in the global automotive industry and is critical at a time where an increasing number of automotive manufacturers are establishing operations in North America. 

(Volvo's South Carolina plant will make latest generation Volvo models for sale in the United States and for export. Construction will begin in early autumn 2015, with the first vehicles expected to roll off the assembly line in 2018.)

Volvo considered advantages like easy access to international ports, a well-trained labor force and high-tech manufacturing resources when it selected South Carolina for its U.S. home. The company will work throughout the region to further develop a skilled automotive workforce, helping the state add to the already impressive talent pool found in the Upstate region.

“Any announcement to bring new business to the state of South Carolina is good for the Upstate,” said John Lummus, president and CEO of Upstate S.C. Alliance. “With BMW here in Greer, we now have two world-class automotive manufacturers that call South Carolina home.”

“The effects of Volvo’s presence in the state will have a tremendous positive impact on suppliers in Upstate South Carolina. This region has become the center of the Southeast’s automotive cluster. With easy access to interstate highways, rail services and commercial and private air connectivity, suppliers in Upstate South Carolina have the unique advantage of being able to reach assembly plants throughout South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and beyond. Today is a great win for South Carolina’s entire automotive industry.”

South Carolina is home to 250 automotive-related companies—including more than 150 here in the Upstate—and is the top-ranked exporters of both tires and automobiles.  

For more information on the automotive industry in South Carolina and the Upstate, visit


Upstate South Carolina’s top-ranked business climate, world-class research collaborations and a superb quality of life are a major reason the region continues to call world-renowned companies like BMW, Michelin, Fujifilm, GE and others home. And the Upstate continues to grow. Thanks to the collective help of the region’s local economic development offices (EDOs), Upstate South Carolina was able to announce more than $4 billion in capital investment and nearly 5,000 new jobs in 2014.

Recently, Site Selection magazine recognized the efforts of two Upstate-based EDO’s, naming the Economic Futures Group of Spartanburg to its annual Top U.S. Economic Development Groups and the Oconee Economic Alliance to its Top Micropolitan Groups of the Year list.

Per Site Selection: “This years’ Top US Economic Development Groups are based on four objective project criteria: jobs, capital investment, jobs per capita and investment per capita as tracked in Conway’s proprietary New Plant Database. Additional criteria include the creativity of economic development strategy; scope of project activity; and the ability to accurately document the link between the EDO and real results.”

The Economic Futures Group of Spartanburg was at the heart of two separate $1 billon announcements in 2014, helping to bring Toray Carbon Fibers America Inc. to the Upstate and working with BMW to announce a $1 billion expansion to its plant in Greer. 

The team at Oconee Economic Alliance announced $95 million in investment and over 400 jobs in 2014.

View the entire list of Site Selection’s Top US Economic Development Groups at

For more information on Spartanburg County, visit

For more information on Oconee County, visit

Upstate South Carolina is home to nearly 1.4 million people, a number that continues to grow as the world takes note of the many benefits that are unique to the area. Recently, Livability, a website that explores what makes small-to-medium sizes cities a great places to call home, named Greenville, S.C. to its annual “Top 100 Best Places to Live”.

According to Livability, “The secret of Greenville, SC’s success is simple: balance. Balance between the old and the new. Between growth and quality of life. Between economic vibrancy and day-to-day livability.”

“As one of’s Best Places to Live, this energetic city has much working in its favor, from an enviable location in the booming Charlotte-Atlanta corridor and a welcoming cultural mix of urban sophistication and traditional Southern charm, to its talented young workforce and diversified economy.”

To determine its Best Places to Live, Livability takes into account a number of different factors, including educational resources, cost of living, economic development, diversity and more. Greenville ranked No. 33 on the Top 100 list for 2015.

The national ranking comes on the heels of the state of South Carolina ranking second nationally on the list of top moving destinations in the United States in United Van Lines’ 38th Annual National Mover Study and Greenville being named one of CBS News’ hot new vacation destinations in 2015.

It’s obvious that the quality of life for those who call Upstate South Carolina home continues to be one of region’s top competitive advantages when it comes to doing business in the area.

Read more about quality of life in Upstate South Carolina at

This week BMW Manufacturing celebrated a major company milestone as it announced the production of its 3 millionth vehicle assembled at its plant in Upstate South Carolina. During a special ceremony at the BMW plant in Spartanburg, S.C., BMW associate Dawn Burgess, presented the keys of the 3 millionth vehicle to Manfred Erlacher, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing.

(BMW Manufacturing Associates [left to right]: Thomas Watson, Pamela Shaw, Dawn Burgess, Shirley Scott and President and CEO Manfred Erlacher. -- Photo: Fred Rollison Photography)


South Carolina Governor Haley spoke of the company’s significant accomplishments in a BMW news release found on the company’s website.

“What a great day to celebrate as BMW marks another milestone in South Carolina,” said Governor Nikki Haley. “Now with three million cars produced with care and pride by South Carolina hands, BMW continues to be one of the shining success stories in our state’s history. We congratulate them on this achievement.”

Jim Newsome, President and CEO of South Carolina Ports Authority, and South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt, the former manager of corporate affairs at the BMW who was a major part of the plant’s initial opening, were among the guest speakers at Tuesday’s event. 

“For over 20 years, BMW has been a catalyst for the exponential growth of our state’s auto sector, which today includes companies in 40 of our 46 counties,” said Hitt. “But beyond our borders, it’s a point of pride for our workforce that now three million world-class, quality-made vehicles have been delivered for the global market – from right here in South Carolina.”



“BMW operations are a tremendous asset to our port and state, and we are proud to celebrate the milestone achievement of three million vehicles produced with their leadership and talented workforce,” said Newsome. “Automotive manufacturing is significant to the port for both import and export volume growth. BMW is the largest user of our roll-on/roll-off facility at the Columbus Street Terminal as well as the SC Inland Port, and their expansions have been exciting opportunities for us. We value our role in BMW’s international supply chain and look forward to a strong continued partnership.”

BMW’s single plant in South Carolina exceeded exports from Michigan, Alabama and California, resulting in an annual value totaling $9.2 billion. Last year, nearly 250,000 vehicles were exported from BMW’s South Carolina plant—over 70% of the plant’s total volume. BMW’s success was a major reason South Carolina was named the top state in the Southeast and sixth in the nation for export growth

During an announcement in March 2014, BMW released it would invest $1 billion into its South Carolina plant from 2014 through 2016 and would boost production capacity from 350,000 units to 450,000 units per year, making the Spartanburg facility the highest-capacity plant in the BMW global system by the end of 2016. At this time, the company also announced it would begin production of the new BMW X7 and create an additional 800 jobs in the Upstate. Upon completion of this project, the total workforce at the Greer plant would reach 8,800.

In addition to its large-scale investments in the Upstate region, a study released by the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, reported that since the company’s groundbreaking in 1992, the BMW Manufacturing Group has had a $16.6 billion annual impact on the state economy and also has supported more than 30,000 jobs throughout the state. 

For more information on the BMW Manufacturing Company, please visit

To learn more about the automotive industry in Upstate South Carolina, visit or contact Business Recruitment Officer, Aimee Redick by email at