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Posted by: Hal
Well, 2013 started a month ago and I am just now writing a “year-end” column. But it is a story that needs to be told, so please bear with me. It was an amazing year for the Upstate Alliance and I cannot let it pass without sharing some of the highlights. Perhaps it is better termed a “year-beginning” column.
We currently have a staff of ten people, but that is only recently the case. We hired seven people last year—that’s right seven. Part of this was a deliberate move brought about by a decision to align our business development people with our target industry strategy.
Jacob Hickman specializes in recruiting businesses in the aerospace and advanced materials industry. Erin Ford specializes in recruiting businesses in the life sciences and energy industries. Amy Reddick specializes in the automotive industry. She is also responsible for communicating with our Centers of Influence (COI). These are people such as attorneys, commercial real estate professionals, and site selections consultants who are in a position to bring new companies to the Upstate. Xiaodan “Dan” Zhou is our specialist for marketing to the Chinese market. The result of this is we now have four people traveling the world spreading the Upstate success story to the target industries we have the most opportunities to win.
We also hired Elizabeth Feather as our Marketing Research Manager, Emelie Hegarty as our Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator, Patty Wills as our Executive Administrator and Office Manager, and Clay Andrews as our new Director of Investor and Public Relations. We now are much more effective in being able to generate customized research and marketing packages and answering requests for information from consultants. This research ability played a key role in assisting Abbeville County in securing a $1 million grant for a business incubator.
We racked up more than 100,000 miles traveling last year and made 389 presentations, answering 46 formal requests for prospects. This is an Upstate Alliance record for now, but I imagine that record will be eclipsed this year now that everyone is onboard and the work becomes familiar.
We also moved to new office space last year. It was only across the hall, but it makes a great first impression to new businesses visiting us. If you have not yet seen it, please drop in. We’d love to have coffee with you.
In May, Vice-President-of-Marketing Jennifer Miller hosted 5 international media representatives for an automotive reporting tour that included BMW, Michelin, ZF, Proterra and CU-ICAR. The tour produced at least 7 articles in publications such as Le Monde, Nikkei, Sina Finance, Money Today and Jiji Press. Jennifer also led an effort, funded by our investors, to create an eight-page spread in Industry Week magazine touting the benefits of an Upstate business address to a national audience. This is in advance of an industrial trade show that will take place in the Upstate in April of this year and will bring more than 700 industry executives to the Upstate for the convention. I’ll speak to you more about that as the event approaches.
We hosted a major consultants’ visitation event during Euphoria that brought six consultants to town who frequently represent large economic development projects. We had a panel discussion with them for our investors, conducted a “speed-dating” session between them and our local economic developers and gave the consultants a helicopter tour of the region. So far, at least one project has come directly from this event and is currently considering an Upstate location.
We kicked of a new event named the Investor’s Roundtable Club that is an effort to encourage our investors to do business with each other by meeting in small groups to better learn what each other’s businesses offer.
We introduced a new quarterly report named “The Score” that helps to show how economic activity in the Upstate compares with that in other parts of the state, the Southeast, the U.S. and the world.
The momentum is building. January marks the Upstate Alliance’s 13th birthday. What started out as an effort from local leaders to elevate the region’s economic development competitiveness has evolved into one of the most successful regional marketing organizations in the country. We are now staffed with the most powerful, talented team we have ever had, we have shown we can weather any economic storm, and we are poised to have a record year of bringing more attention to what an opportunity-rich place South Carolina’s Upstate is for business.
Thanks to all of our existing public and private investors for your support. This is shaping up to be a great year. It’s a new year and we have a new team, a new office, new ideas and a new attitude. I urge you invest in your Upstate Alliance and let’s show the world that momentum is building in the Upstate.”
Hal Johnson, SCCED
Upstate SC Alliance