Rankings, Recognitions and the UpstateDecember 18, 2020
Upstate South Carolina recognized for business environment, lifestyle
For several years, the Southeast has dominated lists for business climate, capital investment and population growth – and these ideas are still ringing true in 2020. Despite the disruption and economic challenge that unfolded this year, South Carolina and several Upstate communities have landed rankings and headlines that indicate a bright future ahead. Highlights include a growing entrepreneurial environment, recognition of job growth, and our communities landing among top destinations of choice, especially for relocating remote workers.
In keeping with “Auld Lang Syne” reflection, the Upstate SC Alliance Research team has captured the accolades that showcase the spirit of the Upstate:
Competitiveness & Industry Rankings
Within the 10-county Upstate region, existing industries celebrated their own milestones: BMW producing its five millionth vehicle in the United States at Plant Spartanburg, and Lockheed Martin receiving an F-16 depot/maintenance contract that will produce jobs in Greenville.
Beyond our region, Boeing announced it would consolidate 787 production in South Carolina. These accomplishments from world-class companies are an indicator of what’s in South Carolina’s water.
Several outlets continue to recognize South Carolina as a leading state for doing business, and our manufacturing core is proving to be a resilient foundation. Key 2020 recognitions for the Palmetto State:
- Surveyed executives ranked South Carolina in 2nd place, tied with North Carolina, in Site Selection’s 2020 Top State Business Climate Rankings.
- Business Facilities has consistently rated South Carolina as one of the strongest states in the Southeast for manufacturing, and in 2020 ranked South Carolina #8 for manufacturing output (% of GDP), #6 for fastest-growing states (population), and #3 for FTZ activity (exports).
- South Carolina received an ”A” for Manufacturing Industry Health and Global Reach on the 2020 Manufacturing & Logistics Report Card.
What’s more, the Upstate region located between Charlotte and Atlanta is also receiving recognition – for job creation and product output.
- Greenville ranks #7 on Forbes list of communities Where the Jobs Will be in 2020.
- The 2020 edition of Rich States, Poor States ranked South Carolina 7th for Economic Performance. The ranking reveals how state economies are currently performing. This ranking is based on three variables: Cumulative GDP Growth (12th), Cumulative Domestic Migration (6th) and Non-Farm Employment Growth (10th).
- Spartanburg MSA ranks #15 and Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin MSA ranks #42 on the ranking of Best-Performing Cities 2020 by the Milken Institute. In component rankings, Spartanburg ranks #23 for 5-year job growth (2013-2018) and #14 for 1-year job growth (2017-2018).
- Business Facilities ranks Spartanburg #9 for Manufacturing among mid-sized MSAs in its 2020 Metro Rankings Report and #8 for FTZ Activity (Imports).
Small Business & Entrepreneurialism Recognitions
Though we’re home to big-name companies, South Carolina and its Upstate are a strong location for businesses of all sizes to land and launch. You don’t have to take our word for it: new venture capital firms like Cultivation Capital have set roots in the region, and NEXT Upstate recently announced funding support from partners like the City of Greenville and Greenville County.
Others are taking notice of our growing venture capital environment and rich entrepreneurial ecosystem, as shown by these accolades:
- VentureSouth has been recognized as one of the top 10 angel investment groups in North America for the 3rd time by the Angel Capital Association in its 2020 Angel Funders Report. VentureSouth was recognized as a top 10 angel group based on both total investments (30) and capital deployed ($12.7M) in 2019.
- Furman University’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship has been named an Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Center by the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers, a group of more than 250 universities.
- South Carolina ranks #2 in a recent Small Business Administration study of most and least supportive states of veteran-owned businesses. The study looked at the percentage of businesses owned by veterans + the percentage of state-based sales that go towards those businesses.
Workforce & Training
People, people, people. The importance of each of us has been a huge theme in 2020 discussions, and a reminder that businesses are here to serve people – though, people are integral to the process. That’s why workforce has been a leading site location factor for years, and why we’re proud to share our workforce rankings:
- Greenville is highlighted among Eight Inclusive Digital Cities for offering a digital and inclusive work environment by The Brookings Institution. Black workers in the metro area are slightly overrepresented in tech jobs, comprising roughly 18 percent of the sector, for example. In addition, 31 percent of Greenville’s tech workers are female, making the region the sixth most gender-inclusive larger metro in the country for tech.
- South Carolina Ranks 5th among Atlantic states on the 2020 Regional Workforce Development Rankings by Site Selection. These rankings are intended to provide a general sense of which states in a given region are devoting sufficient or superior resources to preparing their workforces for current and future employment. They do not factor in success rates of specific state worker training programs, incentives or other tools.
- South Carolina ranked 8th for numeric growth and 6th for population growth percentage for 2018-2019 according to the U.S. Census Bureau population estimates.
- South Carolina is a right-to-work state with the lowest unionization rate in the nation in 2019 at 2.2 percent.
And maybe a plug: in 2020, the Upstate SC Alliance also launched Skill Up, a one-stop-shop dedicated to showcasing 15 resilient, in-demand occupations that can be reached with 12 months or less of technical training. We created the platform in partnership with our region’s four technical colleges, which offer various training programs in support of these opportunities.
People Want to Live in the Upstate
The business case for coming to the Upstate is strong, though the quality of life case has truly shined in 2020. We launched Move Up in 2019 to showcase the rich, diverse lifestyle amenities that can be found across our communities of all sizes – and it seems that people are catching on.
From being named the “friendliest city” to seeing an uptick in home searches, our region’s on display in such a way that people are going to have to find another way to call the Upstate a “hidden gem.” Let us leave you with these ideas:
- Greenville, SC ranks as the #8 metro in the U.S. with the largest uptick in home searches for the period of 2019-2020 as noted in the 2020 Talent Attraction Scorecard by Emsi.
- In 2020, HomeSnacks ranked the parts of South Carolina where there’s a high level of diversity, where people of all walks of life come together. Five of the most diverse cities in the state are located in the Upstate region: #2 – Greenwood, #3 – Central, #6 – Greer, #8 – Spartanburg, #9 – Laurens.
- The Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin area ranked no. 17 on USA Today’s list of 20 Cheap American Cities That Are Seeing a Boom of Move-ins this Year. The research compared local costs of living to the national average, and our area was found to be 9.6% lower than most other metros with most potential buyers searching from the northeast – New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.
- Greenville was named one of the top cities to relocate to during COVID-19 according to a survey commissioned by Airbnb and conducted by research and consulting firm Clearpath Strategies.
- Spartanburg MSA ranks #15 and Greenville MSA ranks #42 among large cities on The 2020 Best-Performing Cities index. The Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities series has tracked the economic performance of US metros for two decades using job, wage and salary, and high-tech gross domestic product (GDP) indicators.
- Greenville, South Carolina is ranked the No. 6 Best Small City in the United States in the 2020 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards. This marks the fourth time Greenville, South Carolina has been named to the esteemed Readers’ Choice Awards.
- Greenville ranked Friendliest City in the U.S. by Condé Nast Traveler’s 2020 Reader’s Choice Awards.
- Greenville was ranked in the top 10 cities across the US in workforce confidence. LinkedIn analyzed 33,000 respondents’ views on their job security, finances, and career outlooks during July-September, 2020.
- Greenville ranks 32nd in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2020-21 Best Places to Live rankings and 44th in its 2020-21 Best Places to Retire rankings and 19th on its Most Affordable Places to Live in the U.S. in 2020-2021.