Upstate Alliance partners with Anderson County on economic development

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By Stan Welch
The Anderson County Council began the evening Tuesday by adopting a resolution honoring the Palmetto Mustangs Varsity Cheerleaders. The squad won the state 4A Competitive Cheer Championship.
John Lummus, representing Upstate Alliance of South Carolina, gave a presentation to the Council about the changing economic development landscape. He focused on three changes that he says are coming to not only the Upstate, but to the country overall.
The Alliance represents ten counties in the Upstate, in a public/private partnership that also includes one hundred eighty five companies from the private sector. The Alliance functions mainly as a marketing arm and developing leads for the various counties they represent.
The first trend Lummus explained is a basic change in the definition of success in economic development. He reminded the Council and the sparse audience in attendance that success used to be hitting the big home run, like BMW or Michelin. “Those days are fading. Our studies show that major projects like those are down almost fifty per cent in the last few years. The middle market, or companies that generate between ten and a hundred million dollars a year, is the fastest growing segment of the market today, with smaller businesses also filling the void.”
He also pointed out that another area of growth is in innovation in manufacturing. “Many people equate innovation with a loss of jobs, because of automation and robotization. There is an element of that, but the shift is undeniable. Robotic currently accounts for ten per cent of the production in the manufacturing sector. Over the next twenty years, that percentage will increase to twenty five per cent.”
Recent advances in aerospace, fabrics and materials and automotive fields has the Upstate positioned to benefit from the surge in innovations, as well as take advantage of the third trend – an expanding role in the global market.
District Six Councilman Jimmy Davis, on behalf of Councilwoman Gracie Floyd, who was absent, raised the issue of trash and litter along the roadways. He called for stronger enforcement with a firmer hand, an idea that Chairman Tommy Dunn fully supported.
Dunn reminded Davis that progress has been made. “Twenty years ago, you could see sofas and washing machines and stuff just dumped anywhere. Today, our litter is more conventional, but the point is to avoid having it on the roads at all. We need to budget some additional money for more enforcement and we need to educate people about this problem.”
Finally, the Council approved authorizing the staff to enter negotiations with ReWa to forge a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that would lead to a contract to cooperate on establishing additional and extended sewer lines in northeast Anderson County.