Located in South Carolina’s Upstate region, Greenville County is home to one of the nation’s most vibrant economies. Its long track record of attracting large-scale domestic and international investment has garnered media attention, including the front page of the Wall Street Journal and a segment on CBS’s 60 Minutes. The region’s natural beauty, abundant amenities, pro-business climate, and strategic location make it a sought-after destination for investors, employers, and talent. Yet, the county is not without problems. As with many fast-growing areas, housing unaffordability and a shortage of available industrial land threaten its future success. And some long-term residents fear that rapid growth is forever changing the community’s character while also leaving some groups behind.
Recognizing the need to play a role in addressing the County’s critical challenges, (such as affordable housing; childcare; and diversity, equity, and inclusion) while maintaining its high-performing business development program, the Greenville Area Development Corporation (GADC) engaged TIP Strategies to prepare an economic development strategic plan. Following delays associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and local election cycles, the project team established three major goals: driving new business investment and retaining current businesses, ensuring the availability of tools and sites that are competitive, and expanding the GADC’s visibility and capacity. This framework and the associated strategies and actions were developed based on input from more than 40 stakeholder interviews, a series of roundtable discussions, and several competitive analyses, including a review of the GADC’s target sectors. While Greenville County faces a new phase in its evolution, the County is well positioned to succeed and thrive. Maintaining the County’s success and creating an economy that works for everyone will require the GADC to expand its business retention and expansion program, target emerging sectors (including advanced mobility technologies and professional and technology services), and generate new foreign investment opportunities. It must also move beyond its traditional business development role to help address long-term issues by expanding financial support, raising awareness, providing thought leadership, and convening partner organizations.