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Talking Middle Market with David Jones

March 5, 2018

As a continuation of our work with the Global Cities Initiative, the Upstate Global Competitiveness Council (GCC) was formed in July 2017 to implement the strategies and tactics named in the Upstate Regional Export and Foreign-Direct Investment Plans. This area of work relies upon collaboration and communication between public and private sector investors and economic development stakeholders, with working groups led by private sector representatives. Through this Q&A series, we can learn more about these leaders and how their day jobs align with the GCC. 

David_Jones_200-w.jpgName: David Jones
Job: Tax Partner
Company: GreerWalker LLP
Global Competitiveness Council Role: Middle Market Outreach Group Leader; Steering Committee Member

Tell us a little about your background: I was born in Greenville, SC, and lived on Earle Street not far from downtown. My Dad and Mom both went to Furman and settled here in the Upstate along with many other members of my Mom’s family. We moved to Huntington, Long Island, New York when I was getting ready to go into first grade because my Dad (who is also an accountant) started a new job there with a friend from school. I lived there through my junior year in high school, then moved to Asheville, again due to a job change. 

After high school I went to Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and earned undergraduate degrees in accounting and finance, as well as a graduate degree in accounting. During my time in school I did an internship in Greenville, then ultimately landed a job with a regional accounting firm in Charlotte. After I worked with for that firm for two years, there was a merger which grew the firm significantly and this changed the culture, which lead to me looking elsewhere. During that time, I met a GreerWalker partner at an international event and that meeting led to me working for the firm. After being hired I learned that Charlie Greer, who started the firm, went to Furman and knew my Mom and Dad from school. I’ve worked at GreerWalker since then. 
My role has changed a bit over time, but I continue to work with privately owned manufacturing and distribution businesses, many of which have international business operations. I also spent a few years helping our real estate clients, which has been beneficial because many of my manufacturing clients seek to own their own real estate.
What would people find interesting about accounting? Where to start . . . [laughs]. No seriously, what I like about my job is that I can actually be a profit center for my clients versus an overhead cost. By spending time learning about a client’s operations, learning about the industry they work in, and by going to industry specific educational courses, I’m able to bring ideas that they haven’t been made aware of previously. This can generate real dollars, which can exceed their cost in hiring us. I also think it’s interesting that we are constantly learning, due to changes in tax law, and each time laws change, new opportunities arise. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to various cities around the country for continuing education. I’ve also traveled internationally to Toronto, Montreal, London, Barcelona, Munich and Rome and have plans to go to Berlin this fall for our international accounting network’s (Allinial) global meetings. Meeting new people, learning about other cultures and meeting colleagues from around the world is a valuable and fun experience.

How long have you been in your current job?: I’ve been with GreerWalker for 15 years.

Why did you decide to become involved with the Global Competitiveness Council?: I was involved when the Upstate SC Alliance engaged stakeholder groups that created the Foreign Direct Investment and Upstate Regional Export plans a few years ago. I asked to be involved in those groups because I spend about 70% of my professional time working with companies that are foreign owned or that have operations overseas, and I thought I could bring some value to the process since I’ve worked with these companies over time. The Brookings Institution provided direction and support for those groups. 
Once the plans were completed, there was discussion regarding how to implement the plans and I was asked to be join the Global Competitiveness Council Steering Committee. I was honored to be asked and was excited to be involved. Soon after, I agreed to be the group leader for the Middle Market Outreach (“MMO”) group. Being involved with the MMO group was important to me because I felt I’d learn a lot about what companies were really looking for, and I would also be aware of what we’d be offering in the way of programming so I could make sure my clients and contacts could take advantage of being involved. Another reason I value being involved is that I have an ability to network with other professionals who have similar interests on a consistent basis.

How does your job relate to the objectives of the Global Competitiveness Council?: My job is to help my clients maximize their profits. My best opportunity to do that is through tax planning; however, helping them be better at exporting or foreign direct investment is also valuable. Separate from my clients, I have a big interest in helping Upstate companies increase their exports or in the Upstate being more hospitable to international companies, because these will lead to more opportunities for me to work with clients who have international tax issues. Tax incentives are also an integral issue for economic development related to foreign direct investment and are available for companies that export. Hopefully, my knowledge of these incentives provides value to the group.

In brief, what are the objectives the Middle Market Outreach group?: The MMO group is working to identify opportunities that middle market companies in the Upstate have and the issues they face. As we identify them, our collaborators will use that information to provide valuable programming to those companies through workshops, written pieces, or connections to resources already available in the community. Middle market companies face challenges such as retaining their workforce, planning for the future, or optimizing their supply chains. Our goal is to identify some companies within our region that are having success with this issue and to bring their ideas to the rest of the Upstate. By helping spread best practices, we intend to help growth of companies already here and help economic developers learn about solutions for those who may be thinking about investing here. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We’re looking forward to bringing lots of value to our community in the coming years.

Why would you encourage others to become involved?: I really enjoy working with the Upstate SC Alliance staff and believe that other professionals feel similarly. When you volunteer your time, it’s nice to work with an organization that has such a strong staff. The diversity of the committee and board members has led to many learning moments for me and others. It’s very satisfying to work with a broad range of people who are all working hard toward the same goal. The biggest selling point is that this is a great opportunity to be in on the ground floor of something big in the Upstate. The region is already global, and the results of the GCC should lead to further growth from both inbound and outbound international business opportunities in this region. If you have any interest in how the region will grow in the coming years, then this is a way to learn more about it firsthand. I certainly hope many others will join us!    


TOPICS: Existing Industry, Global Competitiveness, International, Global Cities Initiative