I was recently honored by Gov. Nikki Haley when I received an award as an ambassador for economic development for my efforts working alongside the North of England’s manufacturing community. Despite the common language, U.K. companies are not well represented in the Upstate. Both Spartanburg County and the North West of England share a common manufacturing lineage in automotive, aerospace and advanced manufacturing sectors. Historically, they shared a heritage in the textile industry.
Recently, the U.K. government has issued numerous economic policies and directives aimed at growth in those sectors previously mentioned, but what is clear to me is that despite that investment, its ability to deliver the proper support for small- to medium-size companies in no way compares with that offered here in Spartanburg. While I can understand those frustrated with the level of unemployment in the county, which peaked at 12.8 percent in 2010 and has now decreased to 8.7 percent, I can honestly say those driving the inward investment program have developed a vastly superior model to that which I have experienced in the U.K.
Carter Smith and Brian Nash at the Economic Futures Group frankly make doing business in Spartanburg a breeze! Dr. Darrell Parker at the University of South Carolina Upstate has provided strategic and market research support to several companies looking for a U.S. foothold. Another real gem in the county’s arsenal for attracting investment, and unique compared to any locality I have visited back in the U.K., is Spartanburg Community College’s Tyger River campus under the leadership of Mike Forrester.
This type of initiative truly places Spartanburg in a unique position in its ability to recruit companies to the U.S. and to this county. I am looking forward to promoting the Spartanburg model in the U.K. and bringing back that inward investment.