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Last year was a banner year for Upstate South Carolina. The region kicked off the year with major announcements from BMW Manufacturing and Toray Industries, and by year end, the Upstate’s total announcements equaled more than $4 billion in capital investment and nearly 5,000 jobs—more than the previous two years combined.

With more companies looking to establish or expand operations in South Carolina, and in the U.S in general, we reached out to Didi Caldwell, Senior Principal with Global Location Strategies (GLS), a Greenville, S.C.-based firm with 40-plus years of experience in site selection, incentive negations, real estate services and economic development consulting, to offer insight into current and future trends in site selection.

Caldwell and the team at GLS have helped serve the needs of clients such as Novartis, Caesarstone, Proctor and Gamble, Thyssen Krupp, Constellium, and Kemira, and continue to site facilities that ensure long-term growth and prosperity for companies and supporting communities.

(Didi Caldwell is a Senior Principal with Upstate S.C.-based site selection firm Global Location Strategies)


Have you noticed any growth in the number of companies relocating back to the U.S. from a foreign location? If so, what do you think is the reason why?

“We’ve seen that the United States has become the hot place again. For a while everyone was looking at emerging economies, like China, India, Brazil and certain countries in Europe, but companies are once again looking at investing in development in the United States.”

“Companies with high capital investments are transitioning to the U.S because of the lower energy prices, strong market and favorable logistics. Europe is facing extremely strict environmental regulations, with taxes on energy production driving the cost of business increasingly higher. While the environmental regulations are still somewhat tricky in the U.S., the strong market, IP protection and low energy costs make it easier and more attractive for companies to do business here.”

“Rising labor costs in China has also resulted in more jobs being driven to the United States, but there is a lot of competition for labor intensive projects. The Southern U.S. is competing a lot with Mexico for these projects.”

“We currently have two Chinese clients that are looking at the U.S because it’s a good stable market that has a competitive cost of doing business.  Companies realize that if they want to be a player on the global scale, they need to have investments in the U.S. or at least somewhere outside of China.”

In terms of the U.S being a hot spot, do you notice any trends in the companies coming back?

“As far as particular industries, there’s a huge boom in chemical and petrochemical projects. The increased availability and low cost of natural gas or anything derived from natural gas, such as plastic, is currently very competitive.”

“We are also seeing a lot of projects in the food industry. South Carolina isn’t viewed as a huge breadbasket, but the state does have solid agricultural production, and more importantly, a growing population. Food manufacturers usually choose sites either near their supplies or their customers, which is based on population. Since the South’s population has been growing significantly, it makes the region even more attractive for those projects.”

In terms of when companies look at new locations, expansions, new developments, etc. are there any trends you’re seeing?

“New distribution facilities have become more common in the last couple of years. Big companies are looking to realign their distribution efforts to increase their efficiency. There are all of kinds of things contributing to that, such as fuel prices, regulations on the trucking industry and other dynamic changes within the supply chain. We are seeing a lot of realignment in manufacturing and distribution because what was efficient under previous assumptions is not efficient in current conditions.”

“Workforce has always been important, but 17 years ago, there was more of a core base of manufacturing workers. When we went through the economic downtown, a lot of those people either went to do something else or retired, so when the jobs came back we no longer had the experienced manufacturing base we now need. The skills required of manufacturing workers has risen due to the increase in automation and the need for higher technical skills and many areas throughout the country just don’t have the skill base needed, so when companies are evaluating locations they are definitely looking at the availability of a skilled workforce.”

“For most companies now, it’s less about the cost and more about if they can get a quality, dependable workforce with a work ethic that ensures a company will be able to start up successfully and produce the manufacturing quality and quantity expected.” 

Do you see South Carolina, or this region specifically, being a major competitor in terms of workforce?

“South Carolina definitely has one of the best workforce training programs for new and expanding companies. The state has worked to successfully integrate and customize programs for the technical college system with the companies in the area. That’s definitely one of South Carolina’s biggest assets.”

“If you have manufacturing skills in South Carolina but don’t have a job, it’s because you don’t want one. The state has certain advantages like a non-union workforce and a history of labor and management getting along very well, so that is certainly an advantage. South Carolina is also looked at as a friendly state to do business with regards to the regulatory environment as well.”

How can South Carolina better itself?

“One of the biggest things is developing more shovel-ready sites prepared for companies to invest in an area with the infrastructure to support industry needs. Many heavy manufacturing projects require sites that are 100 acres plus, with access to rail, good quality water and waste water treatment capabilities, reliable power and an abundance of natural gas. Many of the areas in the counties in Upstate South Carolina are blessed with these things, but we do need to work on acquiring and characterizing sites and insuring they are shovel ready.”

For more information on Global Location Strategies, visit

Those interested real estate opportunities in Upstate South Carolina can visit our Property Navigator to locate industrial sites, buildings and/or parks for a variety of applications.

The manufacturing industry continues to be one of the United States’ strongest growing and prolific job markets, with the industry supporting an estimated 17.6 million jobs in the United States, according to the most recent data from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). Also noted in the report was manufacturers’ contribution of over $2 trillion to the economy, having risen each year since 2009. The manufacturing industry also results in the highest multiplier effect in the economic sector, with $1.37 added to the economy for every $1 spent in manufacturing. With impressive results like these, it’s no surprise that the manufacturing industry is the core focus of many states throughout the country, especially in those equipped and dedicated to driving continued industry success.

The Upstate region is home to over 1,400 manufacturers which account for more than 96,000 jobs in the area, representing 17% of the region’s labor force. Upstate South Carolina’s competitive cost of doing business, low unionization rate and highly skilled work force, all act as valuable factors that place the region at the forefront of the manufacturing industry in the United States.

As manufacturing continues to grow throughout the country and in the state of South Carolina, organizations like the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance (SCMA) have continued to support and advocate for the industry. As the only statewide organization exclusively dedicated to serving the interests of manufacturers, SCMA has been elevating the quality of life for all South Carolinians by advancing the state's manufacturing industry for the last century.

To gain a better understanding of both the current and future state of South Carolina’s manufacturing industry, we spoke with SCMA’s President and CEO, Lewis Gossett.


(Lewis Gossett, President & CEO, South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance)


What key factors do you think make South Carolina successful in the manufacturing sector?

“There are numerous factors that make South Carolina the ideal state for manufacturing. Logistics is a major part of successful manufacturing, and South Carolina has the capacity and infrastructure to be a major player that can meet both existing and future needs. We also have strong interstate systems, competitive power and tax rates, and of course, a low unionization rate. South Carolina’s dedication to workforce training is also second to none.”

“Beyond the continued success of South Carolina’s manufacturing industry and its economic development, there’s also a unique quality of life that can’t be over looked. The Upstate region of South Carolina has fantastic schools, great cultural opportunities and wonderful recreational activities and events. South Carolina is home to a special heritage that makes it very attractive for those looking to locate manufacturing facilities in an area that is also great place to raise a family.”

In 2014, over two-thirds of the companies that announced expansions in the Upstate were manufacturers. Why do you think the region had so much growth?

“We’ve been fortunate that the Upstate of South Carolina has continued to experience growth even at times when other regions have not.  The Upstate is home to a major corridor of commerce along I-85, the least unionized major metropolitan area in America as well as an array of technical colleges that produce an outstanding skilled work force.

“The Upstate’s pro-business approach and ‘can-do’ attitude is also unwavering. Public and private leadership in the Upstate makes things happen and functions as a team better than almost any other area that I’m aware of.”

How is South Carolina working to fill the ever-growing need of manufacturers for highly-skilled workers?

“A skilled workforce is the single greatest need of manufacturing today. Our state has always met that need, and I firmly believe we will continue to do so. The Upstate has some of the best training programs of any competitive state, region, or country and the technical colleges continue to produce highly-skilled, trained workers.  Governor Haley and the General Assembly are moving aggressively to bolster their support with the technical college system by finding additional programs that will permit manufacturers find the workforce that they need.”

“Our middle and high schools are making great progress with the development of GATE programs and with increased emphasis on STEM education, robotics, and other technical course offerings. Our next challenge will be to continue to educate our children and their parents about the wonderful opportunities in manufacturing in a way that piques their interest so that they will see manufacturing careers as an exciting possibility for their future.”

What improvements are being made to help with infrastructure in SC?

“First, let’s look at port expansion in Charleston. The Navy base project is proceeding, and with its completion at some point in the future, we will see additional capacity to handle an increase in trade through those facilities. Governor Haley and the General Assembly have ensured that we will have adequate funding to deepen our river channel to over 50 feet as we prepare for an influx of post PANAMAX ships.”

“We have already seen some widening projects on our interstates, and with the increased attention to an interest in infrastructure funding in the General Assembly and the Governor’s office, we are confident that additional capacity will occur consistently over the next 10 to 20 years. Most significantly, though, in the Upstate is the presence of the new inland port facility. Port operations have moved 200 miles inland which allows the Upstate of South Carolina to become a gateway to the rest of the country for movement of raw materials and finished goods.”

What’s in store for the manufacturing industry in 2015?

“2015 is already proving to be a banner year for the state of South Carolina. Governor Haley and Secretary Hitt are working at a feverish pace, and the results speak for themselves. I really believe that if South Carolina continues to make progress towards meeting workforce needs, the sky’s the limit. We will continue to be one of the focal points, if not the focal point, in this country for re-shoring and for growth in all manufacturing sectors, but I’m especially excited about success in textiles, chemicals, automotive, advanced materials, and aerospace.”

For more information on doing business in Upstate South Carolina, contact our business recruitment team.

Aerospace & Materials


Biosciences, Energy
& Headquarters

Jacob Hickman

Aimee Redick

Erin Ford


In January, Vapor Apparel, a performance apparel manufacturer and digital print-on-demand service provider, announced it would invest $1.3 million to open a 30,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Union County, creating 114 new jobs in Upstate South Carolina. The facility will house the company’s domestic cut and sew division, which is a rapidly expanding part of the company's product line.  Beyond a reason for celebration in the Upstate, the announcement marked yet another victory for the U.S. textile industry, as yet another manufacturer chose to keep operations at home.

(“Made by China in America” turns a cinematic lens on the interconnected narratives of everyday workers, leaders and business executives, and local community members in Upstate South Carolina, providing a nuanced perspective on China’s economic boom, version 2.0, and its promising impact on the U.S. economy.)

As the U.S., and specifically the Carolinas, works to regain market share in the global textiles industry, manufacturers need to understand the impact of foreign trade agreements that would significantly impact their business. Among those include the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and a dozen countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region, including Vietnam. The agreement is designed to break down non-tariff barriers and eliminate tariffs on goods and services, but not without concern throughout the industry. To gain a better understanding of the current state of the U.S. textile industry and implications of the TPP, we spoke with Augustine “Auggie” Tantillo, president and CEO of the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO).

Can you give us a quick overview of the U.S. textile industry?

“The U.S. textile industry is a major contributor to the U.S. economy. In 2013, U.S. textile shipments totaled $56.6 billion, an increase of more than 5% over 2012. As the third largest exporter of textile products in the world, exports of U.S. textile products were nearly 18 billion in 2013, an increase of nearly 5% over the previous year (Q4 data for 2014 has not yet been released). A substantial employer of American workers, the U.S. fiber, textile, and apparel production chain supplied nearly 499,000 jobs in 2013. Additionally, the U.S. government estimates that every textile job in this country supports and creates three additional jobs.”

For those who don’t know, what is the function of the National Council of Textile Organizations?

“The NCTO is a unique association representing the entire spectrum of the U.S. textile industry in Washington, DC. From fibers to finished products, machinery manufacturers to power suppliers, NCTO is the voice of the U.S. textile industry in the Federal policy area.”

“NCTO's mission is focused on creating powerful national and international alliances to advance the interests of the U.S. textile sector.  As a lobbying group, NCTO is harnessing the influence of an array of associations and business groups that have a stake in the survival and prosperity of the U.S. textile sector to leverage our impact in the halls of our nation's capital.”

What impact could the TPP have on other trade areas (NAFTA/CAFTA)?

“The TPP will be the most significant free trade agreement (FTA) developed in over 20 years in terms of how it impacts U.S. textile and apparel manufacturing jobs, production, and exports. The TPP could also have a major impact on existing U.S. free trade partners such as those that produce apparel in the Western Hemisphere.  This is mainly due to the inclusion of Vietnam in this arrangement and the potential impact Vietnam poses to manufacturers that make up the textile and apparel supply chain in the Western Hemisphere.  These concerns are principally driven by the size of Vietnam’s apparel industry, extensive government subsidies, and the government’s ownership of VINATEX, the largest apparel exporter in Vietnam.” 

“Over the past 25 years, U.S. trade policies have developed large — and growing — export markets with nations around the world and have established important supply chains.  These supply chains have allowed developing nations to build manufacturing platforms that were granted duty free access to the U.S. market.  These export markets have been sustained by thousands of small and medium-sized companies in the free trade areas that have used private capital to invest and to create nearly two million jobs.  It is critical that the provisions of any new trade agreement, such as the TPP, not undermine the valuable and growing U.S. and Western Hemisphere textile and apparel production chains.”

“The U.S. textile industry has supported free trade agreements, such as NAFTA, CAFTA, and Andean Trade Preferences Act, as well as the Colombia, Chile, Peru, and Panama agreements. These agreements have created $25 billion in two-way textile trade which is due, in large part, to the strong textile rules included in these agreements.  U.S. textile and apparel exports hit an all-time record of $23.7 billion in 2013.” 

What rules and regulations would you consider necessary for the TPP to be successful for the US textile industry?

“NCTO believes there are three key components to a fair and successful TPP agreement: Yarn-Forward Rule of Origin; Fair Market Access Rules and Tariff Elimination Formulas; and Strong and Effective Customs Enforcement Rules”

Why is it necessary for the TPP to include a yarn-forward rule of origin?

“Over the past 25 years, the U.S. completed a series of free-trade agreements that include a yarn forward rule-of-origin for textile and apparel products. This rule has served as a catalyst for the record breaking exports of U.S. yarns and fabrics that we are seeing today.  In fact, over the past 10 years textile exports have grown dramatically from $12.7 billion in 2003 to $17.9 billion in 2013, a 40% increase during that period.”

“As the name implies, the yarn forward rule requires that yarn, fabric, and assembly production steps be completed in a free trade region in order to qualify for duty-free preference into the U.S. This rule has created an integrated Western Hemisphere production chain between the U.S. and its NAFTA and CAFTA trade partners. The U.S. is exporting record levels of yarns and fabrics to these partners, which are then processed into finished apparel and textile home furnishings products that are shipped back to U.S. duty-free for purchase by consumers. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. textile exports during 2013 went to our Western Hemisphere free-trade partners.” 

“The charts below demonstrate the dramatic growth of two way trade between the U.S. and our NAFTA/CAFTA trading partners since the yarn forward rule was first introduced.”

“As exemplified in the charts above, due to positive U.S. trade policy, the U.S. and its Western Hemisphere trading partners have created a prosperous and sustainable integrated manufacturing platform.  This partnership provides millions of manufacturing jobs throughout the Western Hemisphere and billions of dollars in two way trade. “

Why should fair market access rules apply to the TPP?

“Market access rules define how quickly tariffs under a TPP agreement will phase-out.  In past agreements, tariff phase-outs have been extended for longer periods of time if products like textiles were import-sensitive, either because of significant production or due to foreign government subsidies.  The ability of Vietnam to rapidly surge into the U.S. market along with the depth and range of the Government of Vietnam’s support for its textile and apparel sector are primary reasons that reasonable phase-out terms for sensitive textile and apparel products are necessary. “

Do you see any concerns about the ability to enforce the rules of a potential TPP agreement?

“The U.S. textile industry depends on strong customs enforcement for its livelihood.  The industry is the third largest exporter of textile products in the world with over $22 billion in exports in 2013.  Three quarters of the industry’s exports go to trade preference countries, notably CAFTA, NAFTA and the ANDEAN regions.  Due to the high-risk nature and the prevalence of fraud, CBP designated the textile industry as a Priority Trade Issue — yet the industry continues to witness serious fraud.”

“As is the case with any trade agreement, there are serious concerns about the ability to enforce the negotiated principles of the agreement regarding the treatment of textile products.  U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has identified instances of illegal transshipment of Chinese origin textile products through the majority of the participating countries.”

“Negotiators should include an electronic customs enforcement system that tracks textile components and which eliminates potential for fraud and errors that accompany paper-based record keeping systems.  In addition, TPP partners should provide sufficient resources for enforcement of the textile and apparel chapter.”

“NCTO believes that customs textile enforcement could be considerably enhanced by addressing some of the issues impacting the industry through the customs reauthorization bill which is expected to be considered during the 113th Congress.  NCTO believes that this can be done in a way that increases enforcement as well as trade facilitation. This is accomplished through improved targeting, increased resources, and enhanced authority.  This new approach will reduce the need for Customs to conduct broad investigations that can hamper legitimate producers while targeting high risk imports.”

Why are currency provisions important in the TPP?

“Export-oriented countries such as China and Vietnam have been shown to purposefully devalue their currency in order to promote their exports and to block imports into their markets.  This practice places the entire U.S. manufacturing base at a considerable disadvantage when it comes to international trade.”

“These illegal currency policies hurt American job creation and economic growth.  According to a 2014 study by the Economic Policy Institute, ending unfair currency policies can create as many as 2.3 million new manufacturing jobs in the United States by leveling the playing field in global markets.” 

“Currency manipulation creates an uneven playing field and puts American manufacturing and workers at a disadvantage. NCTO supports legislative initiatives that create tangible remedies for U.S. manufacturers that have been damaged by unfair currency practice and believes we need a bipartisan solution that involves both the Legislative and Executive Branches of our government.”

For more information on how the TPP could impact South Carolina's economy, visit

For more information on business in the Upstate, visit .



More than 50 aviation and aerospace-related companies, including GE Aviation, Lockheed Martin, Michelin, Cytec, Carbures and more, call Upstate South Carolina home. With close proximity to major OEMs, such as the Boeing facility in Charleston, S.C., Gulfstream in Savannah, Ga., and Honda in North Carolina, the Upstate sits in the center of a growth hub for aerospace. Other resources found in the region include the Advanced Material cluster, educational institutions, and the availability of an ever-growing skilled workforce. This combination adds up to one very positive conclusion: the Upstate is quickly becoming a focal point for the aerospace industry.

As more aerospace firms relocate or expand operations in the region, many turn to the expertise of industry peers here in the Upstate to help their businesses grow. One of the Upstate’s  well-connected resources is Ranger Aerospace, a Greenville-based private equity holding company and management group that teams with investors to grow and improve aviation companies. Founded by Steve Townes in 1997, Ranger Aerospace has recorded over $400 million in buy-and-sell events through its several successful consolidation ventures since inception.

An strong advocate for growth, Townes has also been one of the CEO’s on the South Carolina Aerospace Task Force for the past several years. He recently began acquiring yet again, with Ranger’s newest “consolidation platform” called Ranger AeroSystems LLC closing on its first deal in late 2014.

We recently spoke with Townes, who serves as Ranger Aerospace’s CEO, about the current state of the aviation industry in the Upstate and beyond.

What is driving the growth of the aerospace industry in the region?

As firms like Boeing, Airbus, Gulfstream, and Honda Jet increase their production across the region, the southeastern U.S. continues to experience growth in the aerospace industry and South Carolina is the fastest growing state in the industry. The growth is logical as suppliers naturally want to consider establishing a presence closer to the OEMs. This is being driven by the affordable cost of doing business, favorable tax policies of state and local governments, cost of living for employees, low unionization rates, and attractive incentive packages to start up production facilities. The southeastern United States has become one of the largest and fastest growing regional concentrations of aerospace, aviation, and military clusters in the entire world. It’s not just one factor; it’s the confluence of many positive market forces:

(South Carolina’s aerospace cluster includes private-sector firms operating directly within the industry--the “aerospace core”--the state’s four military aviation facilities, and smaller private companies supporting the aviation and aerospace industries.)


Does the aerospace industry look at the automotive industry as a blueprint for success in the Upstate?

"I'm confident pundits would make some comparisons, but there are obvious differences. The automotive industry is based on high volume production, whereas aerospace is concentrated on low-volume and high-precision.

From an economic perspective, comparing and contrasting aerospace to automotive is something we have looked at in S.C. In an economic impact study done earlier this year, it showed that since Boeing's arrival in South Carolina, the aerospace cluster in this state has generated the same number of direct jobs per year as the automotive cluster did between 1990 and 2007 following the arrival of BMW in Spartanburg. In other words, the aerospace industry has had a significantly faster impact.

The aerospace industry is a global and national economic engine, and South Carolina’s future as an aerospace hub is already in front of us. The expansion of this sector promises to bring higher skilled jobs and increased wages as our existing OEM base expands, adds suppliers, and provides opportunities for growth to manufacturers and service companies already in the state. The aerospace industry offers real potential to scale-up employment opportunities for South Carolina’s workers. Employment multipliers for aerospace are higher than other industry sectors, so the total economic impact is greater and ripples strongly throughout our economy. Just look at the 400-plus small to medium sized aviation supply chain companies already growing in South Carolina to understand the multiplier effect—the aerospace sector here is growing like Carolina Kudzu."

What investments are being made in the area’s infrastructure to help support the growing industry?

"The Upstate region represents a fertile ecosystem for continued aerospace clustering and investment. Clemson University, Greenville Tech, the Next High School and other institutions are among the nation’s top educational centers for feeding highly skilled workers into the aerospace system.

The new Inland Port makes it significantly easier for the aerospace supply chain to operate, providing outreach to over half of the nation’s population and major business centers.

South Carolina’s Upstate region is also a worldwide leader in the research and manufacturing of advanced materials. Materials innovators such as giants Milliken, Michelin, and Toray are all here. With one of the highest numbers of engineers per capita and close proximity to the Southeast’s major aerospace OEMs, the Upstate has attracted more than 50 aerospace companies including GE Aviation, Lockheed Martin, Michelin Aircraft Tire, Cytec, Stevens Aviation, Louis Berger Services, Ranger Aerospace, and Champion Aerospace among many others.

This region is also home to the South Carolina Technology and Aviation Center (SCTAC), a one-of-a-kind 2,600 acre technology and aviation center with an impressive roster of advanced technology and aerospace-specialist tenants. Watch for big things to happen there!"


(ADEX Machining Technologies is Greenville, South Carolina-based supplier of precision machined prototypes and production components for the Aerospace, Defense, and Energy-Power Generation industries)

What improvements are being made in the area of MRO as a result of the changing lifespans of airplanes?

"According to Aviation Week magazine’s 2015 annual MRO Forecast, in commercial aviation alone the MRO market will be $15.8 billion for heavy maintenance and $3 billon for line maintenance. Keep in mind the phenomenon of the “Installed Base”… aerospace assets like airplanes are built to last for decades, yet they require continual overhaul to remain flightworthy. Hence, the aftermarkets are gigantic, larger in fact than new production. Thousands of aftermarket and services jobs are created when airliners, corporate jets, or helicopters roll off the production line, and those jobs stretch for decades beyond the initial delivery.

The aerospace/defense sector is undergoing a once-in-a-generation sea change, with everything up for grabs in ways not seen since the dramatic decades that followed World War II. New planes are built to last longer, with more electronics, more composites, and less maintenance. The proliferation of composites and the adoption of additive manufacturing are causing whole new paradigms and business models.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are an imminent wildcard that could transform entire industries such as real estate, security, and logistics services. The electronics content in modern and future planes is dramatic; indeed, the Stealth Bomber could not maintain stable flight without its fly-by-wire technologies. And many of those military technologies eventually find their way into commercial aircraft.

MRO companies are becoming increasingly data-driven, with highly sophisticated software systems supporting the full array of maintenance tasks. The use of wireless systems in MRO is gaining traction and aids aftermarket efficiency, from digital data-loading to connecting technicians with the engineering department. The availability of industrial aviation space and a highly-skilled workforce in the Upstate combine, in my opinion, to make a compelling case for a significant amount of specialty MRO businesses in this region. We are directly in the epicenter of the multi-state regional aerospace clustering phenomenon, with the Upstate also squarely in the center of “Charlanta,” one of the Top Ten mega-regions in the entire world."

How does this affect the local supply chain for the region?

"South Carolina now has more than 400 companies that self-identify themselves through NAIC codes as an aerospace firm and we know there are many others supporting the industry. Just a few years ago you could count the number of firms with AS9100 certification on two hands, and today over 70 S.C. firms are AS9100 certified—obviously positioning themselves to serve this growing industry sector.

Clusters rely on the continual advancement and investment of companies, infrastructure and technology to maintain a competitive advantage. Other aerospace clusters around the country and the world prove that what we see happening here will continue on a lasting basis. It’s the fundamental nature of this industry for large and small companies to aggregate in favorable regional concentrations."



What makes this area an ideal home to aerospace companies?

"A technically trained talent pool is here, and regional universities and vocational colleges have recognized the aerospace industry as a great place for their graduates to land after graduation. The clusters of aerospace firms to serve the industry are becoming a self-propagating supplier ecosystem. Support from local, regional and state economic development organizations is very robust and encouraging.

Quality of life, reasonable cost of living, and yes I’ll say it:  a right-to-work state that makes us highly competitive against northern states. It’s no coincidence that all of the states in the Southeast where aerospace is aggregating are right-to-work states, and S.C. is the epicenter of that."

Are there benefits when it comes to the workforce available in South Carolina?

"Our state’s technical college system is responsive to the needs of existing industry. The organization known as readySC customizes training programs for specific firms to meet their needs, and career preparation programs such as Apprenticeship Carolina are leading the nation in developing skilled workers for industry.

Let’s not overlook the four large air bases in S.C.: McIntire Joint National Guard base, Charleston AFB, Shaw AFB, Marine Air Station Beaufort. The four military air bases represent a significant economic impact to their communities, are “customers” of MRO and aerospace services and products, and provide a skilled workforce from former servicemen and women who transition to civilian jobs. Plus we’re nearly adjacent to other giant bases with heavy aviation missions such as Fort Bragg, N.C. and the NavalAircraft  Rework Facility in  Jacksonville, Fla."

Have we already seen more opportunities for people to find aerospace jobs in South Carolina? Is that job pool growing?

"The employment impact here has been phenomenal. The aerospace industry in South Carolina helped lead the state out of the recession and now employs nearly 54,000 people. It’s becoming a major pillar in South Carolina’s economy. With the multiplier effect from suppliers and aerospace workers spending money in the communities, the total jobs supported by the aerospace industry are estimated between 102,000 and 127,000, pumping between $7.3 billion and $8.6 billion in compensation into the state's economy. The total economic impact is between $17.4 billion and $22.5 billion. I predict these numbers will nearly triple state-wide in the next 10 years, with perhaps almost 1,000 aerospace, aviation, and related support operations in South Carolina. Ten years from now, Charleston Harbor could resemble Puget Sound, and the Upstate will be a beehive of overhaul, engineering, and manufacturing support companies."

What does the area/state need to do to continue this momentum?

"The Department of Commerce and the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness have established a dedicated team to focus on nurturing the growth of the aerospace sector. These groups are holding events for aerospace firms, convening the organizations that support the industry to encourage collaboration. These efforts need to continue so S.C. can continue the momentum. Senior leaders in the industry need to keep recruiting and advocating for more colleagues to preferentially choose this area for their next expansion."

For more information on the aerospace industry in Upstate South Carolina, please visit

erin fordBiotech sector continues to grow in the Upstate - An update from Erin Ford Upstate SC Alliance bioscience task force member, Selah Genomics CEO, Michael Bolick inks major deal to sell his company to a UK based company.  Earlier this year the Upstate SC Alliance played international matchmaker for Selah Genomics connecting them with Barcelona-Spain based Ferrer InCode. The Selah management team will be retained, and an additional sales force will be hired in the Upstate. bio


UK Company Buys Selah Genomics for $75M Upstate Business Journal | April 15, 2014 | by Jennifer Oladipo Selah Genomics, provider of advanced molecular and genomic diagnostic services, inked a deal this week that makes it one of the major exits in the Upstate’s biotech industry. UK-based point-of-care diagnostics firm EKF Diagnostics will acquire Selah for $40 million initially through the issue of new EKF shares and an additional deferred consideration of up to $35 million, valuing Selah at about $75 million. Chairman and CEO Michael Bolick said the company had not planned to sell, but it was the right move and brings the advantage of growing with a publicly traded and better capitalize parent company. “We were excited about running on our steam for a while, but had the responsibility to look at [the offer’s] potential for investors and to listen.” Selah’s management team will be retained as is and will report to the EKF group. The relationship with EKF will allow Selah to hire a national sales force to sell PrecisionPath technology, which assesses biomarkers in tumors. Bolick said the company will be hiring primarily out of the Upstate. “The nice thing about life science is that we have a hard need for scientists, but also hire folks from technical schools to run machines,” Bolick said. He said the biotechnology training program at Greenville Technical College is “really impressive” and will be a source for building the technical staff that can fulfill tasks such as building hundreds of sample selection kits Selah uses to provide its services. The plan is for the Selah Genomics brand to remain intact, Bolick said. That brand has gained a significant amount of cachet since the company was founded in January 2013. It was one of the first companies in the nation to move into next-generation sequencing, bringing important clinical trials to Greenville. By November 2013, the Greenville Health System Institute for Translational Oncology Research started using Selah’s PrecisionPath technology to molecularly profile tissue from individual cancer patients. Bolick said the company has seen significant revenue growth related to direct metabolism testing. A person’s ability to metabolize a drug depends on genes, and metabolism testing allows health care practitioners to know which patients respond to which drugs. “That book of business has grown for us significantly and we expect that to continue to grow,” said Bolick. The company also recently completed an agreement with Barcelona, Spain-based pharmaceutical company Ferrer Company focusing on corporate wellness programs using tests to more accurately identify individuals incorrectly assessed as having a low risk of heart disease when genetic markers show they are in fact high-risk. Bolick said South Carolina’s bioscience companies are now starting to see the benefit of investments made in growing the industry over the last several years as several companies are being pursued for acquisition. A decade ago there were no concerted resources for supporting such companies, but since then organizations such as the Upstate Carolina Angel Network and SC Launch have helped spur growth. “We were one of the first companies that SC Launch invested in, in serial [rounds], and now we’re making the return,” Bolick said. Early and especially mid-stage support from homegrown investors leads to the big exits, he said. “That’s what you see in places like Silicon Valley or Austin, Texas. It started with people investing; companies grow, exist, then they stay and start new companies. It’s a cycle.”

Since its first flight in 1962, Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP) has earned a reputation as one of the finest airports in the country. GSP’s competitive airfare draws in more than 1.8 million passengers per year, who are served by six major airlines offering non-stop departures to 15 major cities and 18 different airports across the country. Add to that the ability to offer connecting flights to virtually anywhere in the world, and residents and visitors to the Upstate have the perfect airport resource for business and leisure.

Despite its success, Greenville-Spartanburg Airport is in the process of a number of renovations and improvements as part of its $125 million terminal improvement program, WINGSPAN. From initial planning and design to its completion, WINGSPAN is entirely about accommodating GSP’s passengers.

GSP’s commitment to serving the needs of the Upstate extends outside of the terminal. In 2012, the airport kicked off a growth initiative entitled GSP360 to help develop areas of land surrounding the airport itself.

We recently sat down with Greenville-Spartanburg Airport’s Vice President of Communications, Rosylin Weston (pictured above), to talk about updates at the airport:

Visitors to GSP will notice a lot of changes happening outside of the airport. Can you give us an update on what visitors can expect to see when the current renovations are complete?

"The GSP terminal is literally changing from one end to the other, top to bottom. One of the first things GSP visitors will notice is an enhancement to the façade and exterior of the terminal. We have added over 700 feet of glass to replace the original concreate exterior, giving the terminal a more welcoming feel with natural light. This update also includes a glass curbside canopy that will offer visitors who are in the drop-off and pick-up areas shelter from the weather."


(Take a walkthrough of GSP International's renovations)


What improvements are being made to help business travelers and those traveling for pleasure?

"Once inside the airport, travelers will see a number of renovations—completed and in progress—including new tile and new carpeting throughout portions of the terminal along with the addition of new food and retail options and new restrooms in both concourses.

Traveling through the airport, passengers will see our newly-constructed North Wing, which is currently serving as home to temporary airline ticket counters, allowing for renovations to continue in the lobby area and the core of the terminal. The North Wing is also the first phase build-out of the future second baggage claim area and will eventually be home to all of GSP’s administrative offices.

We have nearly completed renovations to our baggage claim area, which includes three new baggage carousels and a new Airport Customer Service desk. Our renovated baggage claim also offers travelers who have not passed through security and those waiting on arriving passengers an opportunity to enjoy new food and retail options including Flatwood Grill, Dunkin’ Donuts and a Hudson store.

To make travel even easier, we are also consolidating our screening checkpoints, which will make the screening process more efficient. This will also make maneuvering throughout the airport easier for travelers, by providing them access to both concourses once through the security checkpoint. We understand that our passengers value their time and these renovations are being made to vastly enhance the customer experience at GSP."

Beyond commercial air travel, what types of improvements are being made that will help local businesses who depend on the airport?

We anticipate that WINGSPAN will support approximately 1,400 local jobs have a $164.1 million impact on our local economy. This impact can be seen through the selection of many local vendors and contractors for planning, construction and implementation. We are committed to putting as much back into the local economy as possible and the GSP Airport District has taken every possible measure to help ensure as much local participation as possible throughout this process.


(Every dollar GSP Airport brings in generates another $3.05 in the local economy.)


While WINGSPAN features numerous initiatives to enhance the airport, GSP360 focuses on the areas surrounding the airport. Can you share some of the latest developments with GSP360?

"GSP360 is a growth initiative that was the result of a land-use study completed and adopted in 2012. The purpose of GSP360 is to encourage the responsible development of property owned by GSP, ensuring the continued growth and development of the airport and its surrounding property.

Through GSP360, we have identified nine developable tracts of land, each offering unique features that could appeal to a range of industries and sectors, including aviation, logistics, retail, office space, hospitality, recreation and more."

For more information on GSP and the aerospace industry in Upstate South Carolina, please visit 



Congratulations to our Board investors, Hire Dynamics,
on their recent award as a best place to work in South Carolina!


Hire Dynamics Named Top of the List
as a “South Carolina Best Place to Work”

Hire Dynamics, an industry leading staffing provider with 10 branch offices througout the Southeast, was recently named #1 Best Places to Work in South Carolina. The awards program, created by SC Biz News in partnership with the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and Best Companies Group, is designed to recognize employers that are benefiting the state's economy, workforce and businesses. The list is made up of 50 companies, with Hire Dynamics ranking number one in the small/medium business category.

“Having a company culture that is employee-centric is a critical piece to our business model,” says Hire Dynamics CEO Dan Campbell. “We can’t expect that our clients and talent will be served to the best of our ability if we don’t first have full alignment within our own house. We’re thrilled by the honor of a best place to work designation. It is a tribute to the work our employees do, day in and day out and the belief that What We Do Matters.” 

The first portion of the two-part survey consisted of evaluating each company's workplace practices, philosophy and demographics. The second consisted of an internal survey to measure employee experience. Combined, these factors determined the top companies and the final ranking. Hire Dynamics prioritizes loyalty to its clients, internal staff and the talent it places. The company’s commitment to exemplifying a people-first philosophy has led Hire Dynamics to be recognized as an award-winning leader both locally and nationally.

About Hire Dynamics:

Putting an average of 3,500 people to work every day, Hire Dynamics is an industry leading staffing provider specializing in contact (call) centers, manufacturing facilities, logistics/e-commerce operations and office support. Founded in 2001, we have grown to 10 branch offices and 16 on-sites throughout the Southeast. Our approach has been recognized and awarded many times by Staffing Industry Analyst’s list of “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and Inc. Magazine’s 500/5000 List of the Fastest Growing Private Companies in the U.S., among others. We can be found at, on LinkedIn here and on Twitter @HireDynamics.


Mr. Carter Smith, CEcD, executive vice president at Economic Futures Group, Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce was chosen by his peers as this year’s “Upstate Economic Developer of the Year.” The award was announced at the Upstate SC Alliance’s Mid-Year meeting Wednesday at the Crowne Plaza in Greenville. The award recognizes the hard work and dedication of local developers in the Upstate who have made a significant difference in their community.

“Carter defines excellence in economic development,” said Upstate SC Alliance president and CEO John Lummus in announcing the honor. “He has played a leading role in building the Upstate’s global competitiveness. This region is very fortunate to have benefitted from his wisdom, guidance and professionalism for the past 23 years.”

Carter was not present to accept the award because he was hard at work representing his county working on another project. When informed of the honor he said, “I’m honored and humbled to be recognized by my peers this way. I’m just one member of a great team that gets these deals done.” 

Smith has worked on some of the largest and most celebrated economic development projects in South Carolina history including BMW, Adidas and Toray. Asked what has made Spartanburg so successful at winning projects, he replied, “Teamwork. We have had strong, focused, consistent leadership from the public and private sectors. There has always been a high priority placed on supporting the needs of business—existing and new, large and small.”

Smith is a Certified Economic Developer with the International Economic Development Council. In 1988 he served as president of the South Carolina Economic Developers’ Association. In 2010 Smith was recognized by the same group as its Local Economic Developer of the Year for South Carolina.  Smith started his current position in 1991. 

About the Upstate SC Alliance

The Upstate SC Alliance is a public/private regional economic development organization designed to market and brand the Upstate of South Carolina. The Upstate represent the commerce-rich northwestern corner of South Carolina, including the I-85 corridor and the Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson metropolitan area. Additional information is available through the Alliance’s web site,

Media Contact: Clay Andrews | Director of Investor & Public Relations | Upstate SC Alliance | | 864.283.2305


Industry Leader Mark Farris Named New GADC President and CEOEconomic development group taps veteran to “build upon County’s opportunities, momentum”

The Greenville Area Development Corporation (GADC), the county-chartered organization tasked with promoting and enhancing the economic growth of Greenville County (S.C.), has announced that prominent economic development executive J. Mark Farris will assume the reins as its new President and Chief Executive Officer.  He was unanimously selected after an extensive nationwide search in which the GADC received more than 300 applications and actively considered dozens of candidates from across the United States.

Mr. Farris, who will assume his new role effective September 15, has served as Director of Economic Development for York County, South Carolina since 1987.  He succeeds Kevin Landmesser who has served as interim President and CEO since May 2013.  Mr. Landmesser will remain with the GADC and has been promoted to Senior Vice President.

“We are truly excited to have Mark join the Greenville Area Development Corporation team as our new President and Chief Executive Officer,” said Richard (Dick) Wilkerson, Chairman of the GADC Board of Directors.  “Mark has been a tireless advocate of smart, strategic and high impact economic development in South Carolina overall and in York County, and is widely respected as a strong leader, visionary and strategist in the industry.  He will bring knowledge, energy, and a strong collaborative spirit to our public/private partnership, and is the right leader to build upon Greenville County’s tremendous opportunities, reputation and momentum.”

The GADC is a non-profit organization established to promote and enhance the economic growth and development of Greenville County.  Since its founding in mid-1991, GADC efforts have resulted in the announcement of more than 17,500 new jobs and more than $3 billion in new capital investment in the county.

Mr. Farris has served as Director of Economic Development for York County since November, 1987.  Directing a team of four, York County has announced over $4 billion in new capital investment during his tenure -- an average of more than $180 million in new capital investment and in excess of 1,200 new jobs annually -- with more than $350 million in investment and 2,200 new jobs in 2013 alone.  Earlier this year, York County announced two of the largest economic development successes in state history when both Lash Group and LPL Financial announced plans to establish their respective headquarters in York County on the same day.  The combined announcements represent more than 5,400 jobs and over $240 million in combined investment in the county.

Mr. Farris is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD), a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma and past President of the South Carolina Economic Developers’ Association.  His economic development career includes prior service as both a Research Assistant and later as Economic Development Manager for Anderson County prior to joining York County.  A South Carolina native, he holds both undergraduate and master’s degrees from Clemson University.

Included among Mr. Farris’ numerous business and civic involvements are Board of Director positions with the Charlotte Regional Partnership, The Interstate Group,  and South Carolina’s I-77 Alliance, and active memberships in the International Economic Development Council, Southern Economic Development Council, and South Carolina Economic Developers’ Association.  He is a graduate of Charlotte’s American Leadership Forum and Leadership South Carolina.  He and wife Erin have three teenaged children.

“There are few positions in all of America that I would have entertained leaving York County for, but my overwhelming love of the Palmetto State and the strengths of Greenville County as an attractive and vibrant location made me realize that this was the right time and destination to commit my efforts and abilities to,” said Mr. Farris.  “The GADC is a nationally respected economic development organization with a superb team, and Greenville County is a model for planned strategic growth.  I look forward to contributing to the advancement of such an attractive and vibrant community.”

About GADC
The Greenville Area Development Corporation is a non-profit organization established by Greenville County Council to promote and enhance the economic growth and development of Greenville County.  Since its founding in 2001, GADC efforts have resulted in the creation of more than 17,500 new jobs and more than $3 billion in capital investment in Greenville County, SC.  To learn more, visit or call (864) 235-2008.

Bio business continues to move in Upstate, SC. Our region’s leaders work together to connect existing industry and new companies to resources to help grow, and locate in South Carolina. Congratulations are in order for KIYATEC for the recent official SCRA check presentation. KIYATEC COO, David Orr, serves as our UA Bioscience Task Force Chairman. As he and CEO, Matt Gevaert, continually promote the region as a location that is “just right” for innovative companies striving to make a difference in people’s lives.

-Erin Ford, Business Recruitment Officer,


KIYATEC check presentation from SCRA (Photo taken from KIYATEC's Twitter)To help further the business plans of two Upstate companies, the SC Launch program of SCRA Technology Ventures presented checks to CampusConnectr and KIYATEC at Clemson University’s ICAR campus.

Originally announced in November, the ceremony honored the companies and commemorated the investments at a networking event held last week.

The two Upstate businesses are bringing innovative technologies to South Carolina and growing the state’s knowledge economy, said Bill Mahoney, CEO of SCRA.

“We look forward to many future partnerships and successes,” he said.

CampusConnectr addresses student engagement and retention, and was designed “by students for students,” said founder and president John-David McKee. Through two systems, the company allows university students to engage with their institution and with each other. The program provides students with news feeds, campus information and functional apps. Although CampusConnectr is a closed program, it is free to the students and schools they attend.

Read the full article from the Upstate Business Journal.