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Site Selection Magazine Profiles Upstate SC

July 19, 2021

“The streets buzzed with spring, people and possibilities. It’s a feeling the 10 counties of the Upstate have been experiencing for some time.”

That’s how Site Selection Magazine summarizes a spring 2021 visit to South Carolina’s Upstate, where editor Adam Bruns conducted reporting for an Upstate Intelligence Report feature.

For the third time, the publication has explored the region’s business environment and lifestyle – from a community consistently growing at a rate more than double U.S. population growth, which ended 2020 with 1.5% increase in manufacturing activity and construction up 5%.

The magazine positions the Upstate as a place where global businesses like BMW and Milliken & Company can prosper for decades, and where startups are supported for launch. It also explores the region’s talent pipeline, Clemson University’s corporate partnerships and our Move Up talent initiative. Featured stories:

A Visit on the Front Porch

Set on the backdrop of the season opening game for minor-league baseball team the Greenville Drive, the publication explores signs of sustained economic energy and momentum: new residents arriving at a rate of 33 per day; residential construction permits that have tripled since 2012; and a region that where even in 2020, there were 57 announcements totaling more than $1.2 billion in capital investment slated to create 3,017 new jobs.

Greenville Drive President & Owner Craig Brown conveys the spirit of the Upstate, sharing his own story and what led him to develop Fluor Field.

“Having spent 20-plus years in New York City where you might pass thousands of people every day without ever looking anyone in the eye, I was surprised to find such a sense of community in Greenville,” Brown says. “From the very start, Greenville city leaders were excited about partnering with us as our self-financed stadium would help anchor the West End, which was still being revitalized, and business and community members were thrilled that baseball would be returning to Greenville.”

Quiet Giant: Milliken & Company Products are Everywhere

We say the Upstate has a collaborative, “can-do” attitude. Perhaps it is best exemplified by Milliken & Company: what once was an Upstate textile manufacturer has grown into a global company shaping the future, with more than 7,000 worldwide associates.

The company has expertise in research, design, and manufacturing that spans multiple markets including floor covering, performance and protective textiles, specialty chemicals, healthcare, and operational excellence consulting for industrial manufacturers. The Spartanburg-headquartered company has accumulated 2,200 U.S. patents and more than 5,000 patents worldwide.

The company’s namesake, Roger Milliken, helped provide the land that today is BMW Plant Spartanburg, its largest manufacturing facility globally.

President & CEO Halsey Cook speaks with Site Selection about the company’s past, and its forward-looking initiatives on sustainability and diversity.

“I think it’s the most business-friendly place I’ve ever worked in,” Cook says. “I find the business leadership really engaged with government leaders in South Carolina in a way I’ve not witnessed in other states.”

The Upstate’s Talent ROI is Substantial and Growing

Each year, the South Carolina Teacher of the Year gets to drive a brand-new BMW X5 manufactured in Spartanburg.

It’s one sign of the close working relationship between South Carolina’s companies and education community.

Add to it: partnership programs like the BMW Scholars program in partnership with Upstate technical colleges, or the University of South Carolina bachelor’s degree program that offers credentials toward mechatronics, industrial electronics technology or automated manufacturing technology.

That’s just one example of the many ways education and industry come together – Clemson University boasts 55 strategic corporate partnerships and growing. The piece explores how Clemson and Arthrex are partnering on a curriculum that produces industry-ready graduates with expertise in orthopedic devices and innovation.

“We like to talk about soil conditions,” says Jack Ellenberg, associate vice president of Corporate Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives at Clemson University. “If you prep the soil, companies will prosper. We ask, ‘What do you need?’ and then listen.”

Where Startups are Stakeholders

The Upstate may be known for our manufacturing capabilities and international connections, though our entrepreneurial ecosystem is gaining attention, too.

Don’t take our word for it: newcomers who have come here to startup, scale up or access deal flow in Atlanta and Charlotte share their stories.

Zylö Therapeutics founder & CEO Scott Pancoast compares his South Carolina experience with the challenges found operating in California. His company, a topical solutions provider with applications in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, has grown from a headquarters at NEXT Upstate’s coworking space into an independent laboratory and production space.

He talks about how easy it is to relocate recruits to the area.

And new resident Cultivation Capital Cofounder, Managing Director and General Partner Cliff Holekamp shares how remote working in the pandemic showed him he could live anywhere. After an exhaustive search, he was attracted to the Upstate for its quality of life and business potential.

“Our firm is focused on developing ecosystems in second-tier markets. I looked at Atlanta, Raleigh and Charlotte, but as a company we would not have an opportunity to be a leader in the community,” Holekamp says. “We did that in St. Louis. I want to do that again. Here, we have an impact on the community, but proximity to deal flow in Charlotte, Atlanta and Raleigh. I’ve been here four months and I have done a deal in each of those cities.”


TOPICS: Existing Industry, Manufacturing, Business Recruitment, Innovation