Upstate SC Alliance Releases Export Strategy at Annual Meeting

March 16, 2015

New Regional Export Plan will Increase Global Economic Competitiveness

Greenville, S.C. (March 16, 2015) – At its Annual Meeting on March 11, 2015, the Upstate SC Alliance released a regional export plan outlining specific steps local business, civic and government leaders will take to promote economic development in the 10-county Upstate region. It assessed the Upstate’s current export climate, sets market-based goals for increasing exports and lays out strategies for supporting local businesses in increasing exports.

The plan is the culmination of a year-long process conducted under the region’s participation in the Global Cities Initiative, a five-year joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase. Launched in 2012, the Global Cities Initiative helps business and civic leaders grow their metropolitan economies by strengthening international connections and competitiveness.  GCI activities include producing data and research to guide decisions, fostering practice and policy innovations, and facilitating its Exchange, a peer learning network. As part of the Exchange, the Upstate SC Alliance is developing a regional global trade and investment plan.

“The Upstate has a strong history of leadership in economic development from both the business and civic community,” noted Irv Welling, the region’s champion for the plan. “Over the past several decades, their support for international recruitment has transitioned our region from low wage, low cost manufacturing to a center of high-quality advanced manufacturing with world-class traded clusters. This plan with its focus on increasing exports is a continuation of their work and will help transition the region from a global player to a leader in the world economy.”

“After the Great Recession, smart economic development leaders are reorienting their efforts from a one-dimensional focus on domestic business attraction toward a broader array of strategic growth initiatives that include global opportunities,” said Marek Gootman, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program director of strategic partnerships and global initiatives. “With this export plan, Upstate South Carolina is developing an economic strategy focused on long-term growth and competitiveness for the region and its firms.”

Yet exports are an under-used economic development tool and only five percent of U.S. firms currently export. This export strategy will help businesses across the 10-county region of Upstate South Carolina capitalize on the growing consumer class outside the United States to strengthen the local economy and grow jobs at home.

“As the global economy changes around us, we must explore new strategies to increase the competitiveness of our region. The Global Cities Initiative provides a supportive framework for our public, private and non-profit sectors to collaborate and leverage our combined assets to grow the Upstate region,” stated Upstate SC Alliance president/CEO John Lummus.

“The Regional Export Plan is the right strategy at the right time for ensuring the economic prosperity of the Upstate. As an economic developer, it allows us to grow and strengthen our existing industries by leveraging the assets that we have developed as a region through years of successful international recruitment,” stated Carter Smith, executive vice president of Spartanburg’s Economic Futures Group and co-chair of the Upstate Economic Developers Group.

The local Upstate SC team is continually building its list of companies that export or have the potential to grow their international activity; if your company exports or is interested in exporting, or if you know of another company that is, please contact the Upstate SC Alliance to discuss your current activities.

For more information on the Global Cities Initiative please visit or

Jennifer Miller, [email protected], 864-283-2316
Christine Holevas, [email protected], 312-732-6206
Grace Palmer, [email protected], 401-644-6403