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For the fourth consecutive year, site consultants have collectively agreed that South Carolina ranks as one of the nation’s top three states for doing business. The Palmetto State ranked third overall in Area Development Magazine’s 2015 Top States for Doing Business, an annual business ranking based on the results of a survey of consultants.

The survey asked site consultants to rank their top states based on 21 different factors across three main categories—business environment, labor climate, and infrastructure and global access.

When it comes evaluating the best states for doing business, “Site consultants often have the best view of a state’s performance — especially when compared to other states,” per Mark Crawford at Area Development magazine. “They work on a variety of projects in multiple industries, interact with economic development offices, and conduct their own research. They get the hard-to-find details that are needed to select the best site for their client’s requirements.“

South Carolina ranked in the top five in over half of the 21 categories, including taking the top spot in Overall Cost of Doing Business, Incentive Programs, Cooperative State Government and Speed of Permitting.

South Carolina’s state-run workforce development programs are also one of the biggest draws for site consultants. For almost 50 years, readySC has been recognized as one of the nation's premier and most-experienced workforce training programs. Operated through the SC Technical College System, it provides customized workforce training at little or no cost to companies located in the area.

Area Development also points out that a state’s right-to-work status is “top consideration for many companies.” South Carolina is attractive for many businesses thanks to the state’s low unionization rate for the private sector, which is one of the lowest in the country at 1.9%.

South Carolina rankings:

#1 – Overall Cost of Doing Business
#1 – Incentive Programs
#1 – Cooperative State Government
#1 – Speed of Permitting          

#2 – Most Favorable Regulatory Environment
#2 – Labor Climate (RTW states)
#2 – Certified Sites/Shovel-Ready Programs

#3 – Competitive Labor Costs
#3 – Leading Workforce Development Programs

#4 – Quality of Life
#4 – Competitive Utility Rates
#4 – Energy Reliability

#6 – Corporate Tax Environment
#6 – Access to Capital and Project Funding

#7 – Availability of Skilled Labor

#8 – Educational Resources
#8 – Water Outlook

#9 – Distribution and Supply Chain Hubs

#10 – Rail Accessibility
#10 – Highway Accessibility

 

For a full list of rankings, visit AreaDevelopment.com.

For more information on Upstate South Carolina’s business climate, visit http://www.upstatescalliance.com/about-upstate/upstate-sc-overview.

Home to global leaders such as BMW, Bosch, Magna, Michelin and ZF, Upstate South Carolina has become one of the nation’s most dynamic regions for automotive production and research. While our region’s progressive business climate and quality of life play a significant role in Upstate S.C.’s success in the automotive industry, perhaps the biggest asset the area has is its available workforce.

The Upstate’s population has grown at a rate of 10% since 2000 and the region’s educational pipeline of schools, colleges and universities, and apprenticeship programs feeds a workforce that features employees with specialized skills, including a high concentration of engineering talent, mechatronic specialists, team assemblers, metal workers, machinists and fabricators.

A shining example of the region’s unique position as workforce development and research leader is Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) which operates as a unique nexus of academia, the automotive industry and government. CU-ICAR is home to the nation’s first PhD in Automotive Engineering and is leading the way in cutting edge research to solve some of the most challenging problems of the automotive industry.

A closer look at what drives the success of the automotive industry in Upstate South Carolina:

 

To learn more about the automotive industry in Upstate South Carolina, visit http://www.automotiveinupstatesc.com or contact Business Recruitment Officer, Aimee Redick by email at aredick@upstatealliance.com

Read more about what's happening in the automotive industry at:

 

A recent report from the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings demonstrates that Greenville Technical College ranks as one of the national leaders in value at two-year educational institutions. The report, “Beyond College Rankings: A Value-Added Approach to Assessing Two- and Four-Year Institutions” offers insight into the quality of colleges by measuring the institutions contributions towards future economic success by using a blend of government and private data sources, including LinkedIn and PayScale.

The report took into consideration a number of metrics to determine quality, including curriculum value, percent graduating in STEM-related fields, retention rates, instructional staff and financial aid.

Greenville Tech scored among the nation’s best two-year colleges in terms of value with respect to mid-career earnings and occupational earning power of graduates.

Greenville Technical College is one of the largest public two-year colleges in South Carolina. The college offers technical courses, certificates, diplomas and associate degrees in business, computer technology, health sciences, engineering technologies, industrial technologies, and public service. Greenville Tech also provides an extensive offering of continuing education courses for occupational advancement and personal interest, as well as economic development services that encourage business and industrial growth in a diverse economic community.

To read the full Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program report on college rankings, visit http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports2/2015/04/29-beyond-college-rankings-rothwell-kulkarni.

For more information on educational resources in Upstate South Carolina, visit http://www.upstatescalliance.com/about-upstate/information-downloads#workforce-education

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 http://www.upstatescalliance.com/about-upstate.

In Area Development’s recent survey on the Top States for Doing Business, South Carolina was recognized among the best with a No. 3 ranking. Judged by a survey of site consultants, the rankings are based on the number of mentions by the consultants in three overall categories—business environment, labor climate and infrastructure and global access—as well as in 18 subcategories.

 

Within the subcategories of the report, South Carolina was specifically noted for being the No. 1 in its low overall cost of doing business and No. 2 in its highly regarded incentive programs, cooperative state government and certified sites with shovel-readiness. Also noted was South Carolina’s consistent, high quality workforce, which is strengthened through state workforce -training systems like readySCTM, continued developments in STEM-based and university-research driven education programs and creative incubation hubs. 

 

Bill Luttrell, Senior Locations Strategist at Werner Global Logistics provided commentary on the recent report; specifically on the Southern States domination of the list (8 out of the 10 top states are located in the South). When commenting on the future of business in the region, Luttrell highlights the South’s strong performance and continued competitive edge:

 

“This is all good news for the investor. From their perspective, the region offers a location where it can set up easily, source locally or import using local world-class ports, make a product at a reasonable price with reasonable regulations, and sell a product directly into the heart of the largest consumer base in the world — with the biggest expansion of this base being their own region. 

 

To the South, this means jobs. To continue this success, the region must provide skilled workers, and the workforce development agencies of these states are among the best. The reason the South dominates the survey — they work together to welcome and nourish the investor. Expect the Southern States to be here on the list next year as well. “

 

In order to prove to interested companies that the South indeed is one of the best places to do business, it’s crucial that states offer support and services to “welcome and nourish the investor,” – a mission Upstate Alliance is dedicated to fulfilling.

 

“Our team offers a litany of services that can help any company looking to move to the Upstate,” said Jennifer Miller, Vice President and COO of Upstate Alliance. “From finding the perfect location, to gathering critical market intelligence and establishing business connections, we educate them on the area and its offerings, connect them to the resources and information they need and support them in their entire decision making process.”

 

For more information about Upstate South Carolina and its favorable business climate please visit http://www.upstatescalliance.com/about-upstate/upstate-sc-overview.

The power of innovation is an ongoing discussion throughout the manufacturing industry – what’s not to be overlooked is the power that a strong advanced manufacturing society can have on driving innovation. Developing an innovation “eco-system” is one of the key priorities for the Upstate in its mission to expand the value chain of its existing advanced manufacturing economy.

In a recent article on America’s manufacturing future, Jefferey L. Chidester, Director of Policy Programs at the University of Virginia's Miller Center,  discussed America’s ability to win in the future in manufacturing with big trends and small firms: “The future of American manufacturing will be won by innovative small and medium-sized companies out to change the world – but only if they have the tools they need to compete.”

While many areas throughout the country have innovative companies, not everyone has a tool box that includes state and private funding, university-research driven education, creative incubation hubs and most importantly, stories of success.

For the State of South Carolina, the Upstate is leading the innovation game. In total, the Upstate accounted for more than 60% of the patents from the state’s top metro areas over the past decade. In the Upstate patents originate from both large multi-national organizations such as GE Power & Water, Electrolux, Michelin, and Milliken in addition to applied research at Clemson University, which has resulted in several successful spin-off companies like Poly-Med, Kiyatec, and Advanced Photonic Crystals. 

Earlier this year, GE Power & Water announced plans to invest more than $400 million over the next ten years in Greenville, S.C., the Upstate’s biggest city, to “drive development of best-in-class technology,” with the expansion of the company’s advanced manufacturing capabilities, including the construction of a state-of-the-art Power & Water advanced manufacturing facility. Check out this video for GE’s take on a new era of manufacturing and how innovation is impacting the industry today:

As the Upstate’s manufacturing strength grows, the state of South Carolina has demonstrated its commitment to leading innovation with the Department of Commerce’s new  Office of Innovation. This office is focused on strengthening the innovation and technology-based job creation power in South Carolina. One example of these efforts is the South Carolina Innovation Challenge, providing up to $2.5 million in competitive funding for projects that focus on fostering technology-based economic development, entrepreneurship and innovation through university collaboration, local government participation or public-private partnerships. Projects at 14 organizations throughout the state have already received funding, including four projects in the Upstate: the NEXT Ecosystem Expansion, Innovate Electric City, STEMLinx: South Carolina’s One Stop Discovery Site for STEM Resources and Spartanburg Entrepreneurial Resource Network.

The Upstate Carolina Angel Network (UCAN), a group of accredited investors who invest in and support start-up companies and early-stage high growth businesses, has also been instrumental in supporting projects in the Upstate. UCAN was recently ranked No. 8 out of 370 angel investor groups by CB Insights, a New York City firm that tracks investments in private companies. The funding that UCAN provides helps keep entrepreneurs in the Upstate for development—a crucial element in sustaining the Upstate’s innovation eco-system. Further, angel investment groups like UCAN have helped nurture the success of small to midsize start-ups in South Carolina such as Selah Genomics, which  was acquired by EKF Diagnostics, a UK-based point-of-care diagnostics firm in April 2014 in a deal valued at over $70 million—more than 10 times UCAN’s investment.

Industry and education collaboration is another important way that the Upstate is sustaining innovation in manufacturing. As many companies in the U.S. are facing a manufacturing talent shortage, the Upstate is building the pipeline for industry-ready educational development.

Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research provides a great example on the graduate level, but the Upstate is also exploring ways to implement innovation and creative inquiry based curriculum much earlier in the educational experience beginning with the opening of A.J. Whittenberg Elementary School of Engineering in 2009, the first engineering and technology based elementary school in South Carolina. The start of the 2014 school year has also brought new developments in a STEM-based education program at three Upstate middle schools and two high schools, where classrooms are starting to look more like a technical work place than a classroom, with the goal of preparing students for the jobs of the future.

While it’s clear that the Upstate holds a wide breadth of industry expertise today, it is forward-thinking moves like South Carolina’s creation of the Office of Innovation and the integration of STEM based curriculum and creative inquiry at all stages of the education system that have the power to sustain an ecosystem of innovation in the long term. The nexus between education, industry and government in the Upstate is the catalyst for its future success.

For more information on how the Upstate has become a center for innovation, please visit: http://www.upstatescalliance.com/about-upstate/upstate-sc-overview

 

South Carolina was named the #2 State for Doing Business in Area Development's Top States for Doing Business 2016 analysis, which is in its 30th year of economic development rankings based upon consultant surveys. 

"South Carolina ranks second, on the strength of its incentives, business-friendly government and permitting processes, and overall cost of doing business. The tax environment gets high marks, and no wonder — the corporate income tax rate is 5 percent, and there are no state property taxes, inventory taxes, local income taxes, taxes on manufacturing equipment or materials for finished products, nor wholesale taxes," the publication said. 

Palmetto State Rankings: 

#1 - Speed of Permitting
#1 - Business Incentive Programs
#2 - Cooperative & Responsive State Government 
#2 - Overall Cost of Doing Business
#3 - Most Improved Economic Development Policies
#3 - Favorable Regulatory Environment
#4 - Competitive Labor Environment

Area Development’s recent ranking of South Carolina as the #2 State for Doing Business once again demonstrates our state’s competitiveness in regards to workforce, infrastructure, and ability to attract foreign-direct investment. Our low unionization rates, competitive utility costs and competitive tax structure complement our business-friendly policy environment to make South Carolina a top choice for companies seeking to locate in the United States and in the Southeast.

The Upstate has certainly benefitted from each of these attributes in 2016, as demonstrated by the 41 companies who have announced $761,215,000 in capital investment this year and the creation of 3,594 new jobs throughout our region. Of those, 16 are announced expansions by existing industries and 25 are new locations. 

Congratulations to the SC Department of Commerce and all of our partners for their role in making South Carolina a strong business environment! 

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

 

Upstate South Carolina took home another award last week when Fodor’s Travel named Greenville’s Swamp Rabbit Trail to its list of America’s Best Urban Bike Paths. The 18-mile Rails-to-Trails path running from downtown Greenville to Travelers Rest was highlighted for its proximity to Falls Park as well as multiple local eateries like American Grocery and Soby’s. Greenville joined the likes of Atlanta, Sacramento, Richmond and Indianapolis among others on the list.

The Swamp Rabbit Trail opened in 2010 and has an estimated usage of 500,000 per year, accounting for $6.5 million of economic impact on the region in 2013. The trail has been a boon for the revitalization efforts of downtown Travelers Rest, and it was recently announced that the trail will be extended beyond downtown Greenville towards surrounding communities.

The award is just one of many recent accolades the region has received, including Greenville being a top-100 city by Livability and one of CBS’ top vacation destinations for 2015.

 

Read more about recent Quality of Life accolades for Upstate South Carolina:

Upstate S.C. City Named Best Place to Live by Livability

National Study Shows South Carolina as a Top Moving Destination

What do Berlin, Egypt and Greenville, SC Have in Common?

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 http://www.siteselection.com/issues/2015/may/top-us-groups.cfm?s=mp.

For more information on Spartanburg County, visit http://www.upstatescalliance.com/about-upstate/regional-fact-sheets/spartanburg-county.

For more information on Oconee County, visit http://www.upstatescalliance.com/about-upstate/regional-fact-sheets/oconee-county

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