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Freight connections key to Upstate’s global competitiveness

November 12, 2014

New Global Cities Initiative Research on Freight Networks Released 

Greenville, S.C. — The Brookings Institution has released an analysis of the trade networks that connect the Upstate S.C. region to other regions in the United States and around the world. The report is part of the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase.

“Mapping Freight: The Highly Concentrated Nature of Goods Trade in the United States” by Senior Research Associate and Associate Fellow Adie Tomer and Senior Policy and Research Assistant Joseph Kane analyzes the value of goods moving between the Upstate’s metro areas which include Greenville-Mauldin-Easley, Spartanburg, and Anderson and their top domestic metropolitan and international trading partners in 2010. These trade flows center around large markets and underscore the importance of a well-functioning national freight network to increase the region’s global economic competitiveness.

The Upstate S.C. region is part of the Global Cities Initiative’s Exchange, a network of metropolitan areas working to strengthen their international economic connections and competitiveness, through exports, foreign direct investment, and other initiatives. The Upstate Global Cities Initiative team will use data from this new report to inform their global trade and investment strategies, including the role of national and local freight policies.

In the Upstate, the report finds that chemicals/plastics, transportation equipment, and machinery are among the region’s top traded commodities. In addition to these products, Greenville specializes in moving a wide range of goods, including pharmaceuticals and textiles, to fuel its economic growth. Spartanburg also forges widespread connections through commodities such as transportation equipment and textiles. Among these connections, the report recognizes Atlanta and Charlotte as regional hubs that help connect the Upstate market to hundreds of domestic and international trading partners.  Canada, China, Mexico, Japan and Germany rank among the region’s most valuable foreign trade partners.

The value of Greenville’s total trade is $53.670 billion annually, and its largest trade partners by dollar value include:

  1. Spartanburg, SC – $5.168 billion
  2. Atlanta, GA – $2.291 billion
  3. Non-metropolitan South Carolina – $2.072 billion
  4. Charlotte, NC-SC – $1.664 billion
  5. New York, NY-NJ-PA – $1.447 billion

The value of Spartanburg’s total trade is $36.624 billion annually, and its largest trade partners by dollar value include:

  1. Greenville, SC – $5.168 billion
  2. Canada – $1.531 billion
  3. Non-metropolitan South Carolina – $1.497 billion
  4. Charlotte, NC-SC – $1.389 billion
  5. Detroit, MI – $1.132 billion

The value of Anderson’s total trade is $15.760 billion annually, and its largest trade partners by dollar value include:

  1. Greenville, SC – $1.410 billion
  2. Detroit, MI – $716.8 million
  3. Miami, FL – $618.1 million
  4. Atlanta, GA – $610.7 million
  5. Spartanburg, SC – $513.8 million

“Being a prominent location for global manufacturing growth means having the infrastructure to support the flow of goods both domestically and internationally,” said Upstate SC Alliance President/CEO John Lummus. “The report by the Brookings Institution released today further highlights the role of regional interconnectivity in the Upstate, and the importance of maintaining a strong infrastructure system that includes all modes of transportation.”

The report identifies several patterns that are found across the country. Goods trade is highly concentrated among the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. More than 80 percent of all goods traded in the United States—a volume valued at more than $16.2 trillion dollars—either start or end in these metropolitan areas. For this reason an efficient, well-connected infrastructure network is a key component of our national goods exchange.

The new analysis shows that several factors are associated with where these metropolitan trade networks arise. Metropolitan trading partners tend to be geographically proximate, have high concentrations of logistics workers and large populations, and share complementary industries.

Goods trade and exports are an important part of a globally competitive regional economic development strategy, bringing in outside capital and helping local businesses expand to create more jobs. Using this research, local leaders will be able to better understand the importance of priority freight corridors and regional logistics hubs to grow their economies, including the export of goods domestically and abroad.

“Businesses and regions need freight policies that better reflect the hub-and-spoke nature of trade flows,” said Adie Tomer, Brookings associate fellow and one of the report’s coauthors. “National and local leaders must recognize that investments in priority markets have the potential to benefit all regions of the country and keep our metro areas’ goods trade competitive in the global market.”

Launched in 2012, the Global Cities Initiative is a five-year joint project of Brookings and JPMorgan Chase aimed at helping city and metropolitan leaders become more globally fluent by providing an in-depth and data-driven look at their regional standing on crucial global economic measures, highlighting best policy and practice innovations from around the world, and creating an international network of leaders who ultimately trade and grow together. For more information please visit http://www.brookings.edu/projects/global-cities.aspx or www.jpmorganchase.com/globalcities.

The Upstate SC Alliance is a public/private regional economic development organization designed to market and brand the Upstate of South Carolina. The Upstate represents the commerce-rich northwestern corner of South Carolina, including the I-85 corridor and the Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson combined statistical area. Additional information is available through the Alliance’s website, www.upstateSCalliance.com.

TOPICS: International, Upstate Thoughts, News You Can Use