Site Selection Magazine Features Upstate South CarolinaJuly 26, 2023
2023 Intelligence Report Highlights Sustainability & Workforce
Building a sustainable business. Finding a skilled workforce. Hitting the trails. Exploring local restaurants.
According to Site Selection Magazine Editor Adam Bruns, these are all a natural fit in Upstate South Carolina. He captured our region’s business and lifestyle hotspots while visiting to report on the latest Upstate Intelligence Report, published in the July 2023 edition. Here’s what he observed:
‘A Symbol of the Upstate Sustainability Ethos’
For Upstate-based bicycle manufacturer BOYD Cycling, the company found that it could save both time and money by reshoring its rim manufacturing from Taiwan to Greenville. After constructing a new rim manufacturing plant in the Upstate, BOYD is now able to share the facility with other manufacturers, improving production logistics for the entire bike industry.
The organically built, globally competitive company, is “a symbol of the Upstate sustainability ethos,” Bruns writes.
That ethos is playing out across the region: take brownfield mill revitalization projects like Judson Mill, a former Milliken production facility that’s now home to apartments, office space, and commercial offerings like a brewery, climbing gym, music venue and a Feed & Seed.
Jackie Baxley, Principal and EHS&S Practice Leader at HRP Associates, describes the Upstate as a model for how sustainability and site selection can intersect. “It’s a perfect example of green space, recreational space and business space cohabitating,” she says.
SustainSC, a statewide organization that strives to connect the sustainability goals of business with local solutions, is another embodiment of that ethos. “If everyone gets in the room, you can normally come to a commerce and conservation solution without a courtroom,” shares Sustain SC CEO Ethel Bunch.
Another example: TIME Bicycles establishing the nation’s largest carbon fiber bicycle factory in Landrum. The French high-performance bicycle maker will revitalize a vacated industrial property along the Saluda Grade Trail, a challenging 31-mile route that will connect Spartanburg and Saluda, NC.
Places that are ‘Really Real’
As the mountains of the Upstate attract cyclers from around the world, Spartanburg’s sprawling 50-mile Daniel Morgan Trail System, “the Dan,” connects the entire county with its downtown attractions.
Kyle Sox, VP of Industrial Development at OneSpartanburg, Inc., shares the city’s growing downtown energy, marked by a $75 million downtown retail development by M. Peters Group, a minor league baseball stadium, a soon to be rebuilt city hall and a new planetarium. These up-and-coming destinations are bolstered by the community’s commitment to an inclusive quality of life, including tax breaks for residential developers who offer a certain amount of attainable, affordable housing.
“Something about this place feels really real,” Sox says. “There is opportunity and grit here.”
Startup Energy in All Directions
In 2018, medical record company Sync.MD was based out of Greater Seattle, in a bloated tech scene that had become “noisy and crowded.” They began a multi-year search for a new home.
In 2021, Sync.MD relocated to the Anderson County Incubator, where the Upstate’s growing life sciences and technology sectors helped the company expand and gave it the opportunities it needed to thrive.
“The South Carolina business community really support each other,” Sync.MD COO Cecilia Zapata-Harms says. “They want all businesses to succeed and will do anything they can do to introduce, make connections and build that relationship.”
Zapata-Harms has found support from groups like the Greenville-based NEXT, which assists high-impact startups with the connections, mentoring and workspaces they need to advance their business.
Home to a Sophisticated Technical Workforce
A longstanding hallmark of the Upstate is its collaboration between industry and education, leading to a pipeline of industry-ready talent. For chemical producer BASF, an apprenticeship program developed with Tri-County Technical College (TCTC), Apprenticeship Carolina and readySC is one way that it develops its skilled workforce.
The first three cohorts have graduated 19 apprentices, who work fulltime while attending class once a week at TCTC’s Oconee Campus. The program has attracted people from all walks of life — college students to mothers reentering the workforce after staying home to raise children.
The program provides additional entry points, streamlines the onboarding process and supports the company’s goals of diversity and inclusion. They are aiming toward 30% of female/under-represented minority leadership by 2030.
“Manufacturing can be for anyone,” says Elba Lizardi, BASF Seneca site director.