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Upstate SC Alliance Proves to be Key Ally in Spartanburg's Economic Development

Agency Has Partnered with EFG on Several Projects

Published Thursday, April 25, 2019 11:00 am

Inside the Spartanburg Chamber, collaboration spans across five entities. The teams from the Chamber, Economic Futures Group, Convention & Visitors Bureau, Downtown Development Partnership and OneSpartanburg all work together, coming together to advance Spartanburg’s economy, equality and quality of life forward.

Collaboration stretches beyond the walls of the 105 N. Pine St. Chamber office, though.

The EFG works closely with the Upstate SC Alliance, an organization dedicated to growing companies in the Upstate and bringing new domestic and foreign investment to the area.

Kyle Sox, director of business development with EFG, participates in local, domestic and international marketing trips organized and executed by the Upstate Alliance team.

“We travel together to tradeshows, consultant forums, and visit targeted industries and companies. In addition, Upstate Alliance hosts scores of local events for economic development researchers, existing industry professionals, and for private industry professionals,” Sox said. “They are a strong marketing and professional development partner for Spartanburg and the Upstate region.”

The collaboration between Upstate Alliance and the EFG led to AWL Automation, a Netherlands-based producer of advanced automation and robotics, deciding to come to Spartanburg County. The company initially located at the Spartanburg Community College Spark Center SC, which provided temporary office and warehouse space while AWL secured its local real estate.

The Upstate is home to more than 465 foreign-owned businesses. Upstate Alliance has long worked with investors and partners around the region to grow the global economic presence of the Upstate as a whole through strategic marketing, collaboration and leadership.

“Economic Development projects generally don’t care about county boundaries. Projects want a profitable place to invest with a stable workforce,” said Sox. “Upstate Alliance has a much greater bandwidth and reach for marketing to such projects than any individual county would have.”

Like the EFG team in Spartanburg County, Upstate Alliance works with companies and site selectors looking to launch new operations. Along with EFG and the S.C. Department of Commerce, they provide services, support and research to companies looking to locate or expand in the Upstate.

“We know that companies look regionally to identify the factors that make them successful: maybe they need workforce from across multiple counties, coupled with proximity to the Inland Port and the ability to partner on research,” said John Lummus, President and CEO of Upstate Alliance.

The Upstate’s assets – from its proximity to Charlotte and Atlanta to the Inland Port Greer to facilities like the Spark Center SC. Upstate Alliance’s business recruitment efforts vary by company. Danielle Besser, the agency’s public relations manager, said once a conversation turns to hard data and real estate exploration, a “project” is considered to be launched.

Data is at the heart of the Upstate SC Alliance approach, with fact sheets for the cities and counties in the 10-county Upstate region available online. Data on major employers, workforce statistics from the area, maps and more are also online.

Interested companies then become a “prospect” and issue a Request for Information (RFI). When an RFI is generated, a project manager from the SC Department of Commerce project manager is assigned to support the project from the state perspective.

RFIs often inquire about workforce, access to educational instructions, infrastructure and connectivity (roads, water, sewer, fiber – all the less visible elements that make development possible). The Upstate SC Alliance Research Team works collaboratively with Upstate economic development offices to respond to the RFI. 

The data-driven approach has been crucial to the biggest sectors in the Upstate, each of which has an impact in Spartanburg County: aerospace, automotive, engineered materials and life sciences.

On May 2, Upstate SC Alliance hosts an event at the Spartanburg Chamber to help business leaders navigate MoveUp, a new website designed to show off the professional and quality-of-life opportunities available in the Upstate. The site was developed with support from the chambers in Anderson, Greenville and Spartanburg, along with Ten at the Top.

MoveUp lets users explore communities in-depth in both economic and social lenses. The website ties into a broader talent-recruitment and-retention effort ongoing around the Upstate.

“Upstate Alliance is an important ally for Spartanburg. They leverage the assets of the public and private members to elevate our collective marketing position to a broader audience,” Sox said.

“An invaluable tool to help entrepreneurs and businesses launch, build, expand, and reorganize”
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