Over the past several years, Greenville County and the entire State of South Carolina has experienced record growth in capital investment and job creation from new and expanding companies.
In fact, last year the Greenville Area Development Corporation helped 24 national and international firms discover that our area poses significant opportunity to lower total costs of operation while providing a quality of life comparable to almost any on the globe.
Over 2,200 new jobs were announced as part of almost $400 million in new investment by new and existing industries. But with that impressive growth comes a responsibility to provide adequate infrastructure, especially well-maintained roads.
We actually take for granted the ability to drive almost anywhere in Greenville as part of our daily lives, but business and industry depends on our network of highways and interstates for their very existence. Indeed, Area Development magazine performs an annual survey that asks companies who have recently relocated or expanded to areas throughout the United States what were their most important factors in choosing a particular location for their investment.
In their 2015 survey, good highway access was the most critical factor in a company’s decision.
Manufacturing has always depended on an uninterruptable supply of raw materials to meet production demands, but with ‘just-in-time’ delivery now being the rule for many operations, congested or poorly- maintained road networks will cause prospective companies to cross an area off their list almost immediately.
Distribution and logistics companies often won’t even consider a location that puts their product flow and delivery in jeopardy. Even office and corporate headquarters place a high value on ease of access for their employees as they compete for the best and brightest.
According to industry experts like Tim Feemster, managing principal for Foremost Quality Logistics in Dallas, Texas, “Many companies focus on incentives, tax, or labor costs and forget the transportation expense. Transportation costs can range from 50 to 80 percent of supply chain costs, depending on the industry and type of operation.”
Our state and region simply cannot allow further degradation of our highway network if we are to continue record levels of investment and new jobs. Solutions to the problem come in many forms although an assumption that either our federal or state officials will come to our rescue is at best, denial and at worst, delusion.
Greenville has made itself into an extraordinary location by meeting challenges and opportunities with dedication and commitment at the LOCAL level. Anything that has been achieved towards making our area a marquis community was accomplished by business, community and elected officials deciding it was a worthwhile venture and then having the diligence to complete the task.
Both prospective companies who want to be a part of Greenville and existing industries who are contemplating future investments are watching. They want to know what sustainable remedies we can provide to not only ease the existing congestion but to also ensure a future highway grid that won’t fail in the long term.
How we respond may well determine whether or not we stay on the path to prosperity.
President and CEO
Greenville Area Development Corporation
Mr. Farris holds a Master’s Degree in Planning from Clemson University, as well as a B.A. in Political Science and a B.S. in Secondary Education. While at Clemson, he was a member of Tau Sigma Delta Honorary Fraternity, and Clemson University Dean’s List. He is also a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute and achieved Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) status in 1993.