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Megaregions are a major focus of the America 2050 National Infrastructure Program, which acknowledges projected surges in population and explores passenger rail as an alternative to traditional highway infrastructure, according to Georgia Department of Transportation Rail Progra

In the wake of the Brexit (the United Kingdom vote to exit the European Union) and attacks in cities such as Paris and Nice, JP Morgan Chase Managing Director and Head Economist Jim Glassman says there’s a common perception that globalization is nearing its

In a panel discussion during the recent Global South Metro Exchange, coordinated by the Upstate SC Alliance to unite leaders from Atlanta, Charlotte and Charleston in conversations about global competitiveness, private industry representatives from businesses large and small emphasized the importance of free trade agreements to commercial successes.

Foreign-direct investment (FDI) is so prevalent in the Palmetto State that South Carolina was named the "national champion" of FDI in February 2016 by fDi Magazine. The presence of foreign-owned enterprises (FOEs)is especially strong in the Upstate, where 10.6 percent of jobs are tied to FOEs, and in Charleston, which was ranked the No. 9 metro area in the U.S. for the largest share of international jobs by the Brookings Institution. 

During the recent Global South Metro Exchange, coordinated by the Upstate SC Alliance to unite leaders from Atlanta, Charlotte and Charleston in conversations about global competitiveness, Greenville Mayor Knox White and Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg shared a panel discussion about globalization’s effect on communities.

“You see the statistics about 500 foreign-owned businesses in the Upstate, but behind those numbers of foreign-direct investment and export-oriented businesses are relationships — people, and you cannot walk on the streets of downtown without hearing German and running into people from all over the world,” White said. “It’s built into our DNA now.”

Transportation, Free Trade Agreements and the value of collaboration emerged as core themes during the Global South Metro Exchange on July 21, a first-of-its-kind event coordinated by the Upstate Alliance for leaders from the Upstate, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Charleston to discuss global competitiveness.

International trade and investment is a common interest for partner regions and the 250 business and community leaders who attended. The event originated during conversations among regions participating in the Global Cities Initiative, a four-year learning and action network to help metropolitan leaders develop and implement regional strategies to boost global trade and investment. 

The event’s presenting sponsor was JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Metro Atlanta Chamber, Charlotte Regional Collaborative for a Global Economy, and the Charleston Regional Development Alliance partnered in planning. 

We’ve seen trade deals catapult Mexico into an international automotive magnet—with recent investments by Nissan, Mazda, Honda, Audi and General Motors—where 44 free trade arrangements allow for 80 percent of Mexican-manufactured vehicles to be exported worldwide.

If we want today’s Upstate companies to experience such growth and to employ our great-grandchildren in 100 years, it’s critical to break down barriers to international market access.

According to the International Trade Administration, 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States, and 79 percent of economic growth in the next five years is projected beyond our borders.

In 2014, South Carolina automotive, chemicals, machinery, forest and energy products manufacturers exported a combined $763,084,000 to countries in the new TPP. Under the new agreement, more than 96 percent of those exports would be duty-free immediately in the destination countries, making American-made products more attainable and affordable for overseas customers.

Dr. Amod Ogale, director of Clemson University’s Center for Advanced Engineering Fibers and Films, recently received $2 million for collaborative research that aims to lower the cost of carbon fibers. According to a Clemson University news release, Ogale’s latest round of funding comes as part of a collaboration with the Center for Composite Materials at University of Delaware. The center, which is leading the research, has received $14.9 million from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency for the Tailorable Feedstock and Forming Program.

We congratulate Dr. Ogale on his research and collaboration with multiple agencies to seek solutions for the advanced materials sector, which supports the Upstate’s strong automotive and aerospace presences and has grown in its own right in recent years. 

In the Upstate, advanced materials companies employ 38,883, which is 77 percent above the national average and growing, with 1 percent growth from 2014-2015.

We’ve seen tremendous growth in the sector, which includes plastics companies such as Plastic Omnium, Mitsubishi Polyester Film; optics and photonics producers such as AFL Telecommunications and Ceramtec; advanced textiles manufacturers such as BBA Fiberweb and Cytec Carbon Fiber; and metalworking and fabrication such as Fisher Barton and Spartanburg Steel.

As the United States manufacturing sector grows, labor shortage and future demand for high-skilled workers are a critical issue nationwide that is also on the radar for South Carolina business and government leaders. In the Upstate, industries such as Manufacturers Caring for Pickens County are heeding the call to raise awareness for manufacturing careers.