Magazine Awards South Carolina a Silver for Landing Big Economic Development Projects

Richard Breen

Monday, July 1st, 2019

Economic development experts are once again recognizing South Carolina for its ability to attract major investment and job creation.

Area Development handed the Palmetto State a Silver Shovel as part of the magazine’s annual Gold and Silver Shovel Awards. The awards are determined on a combination of factors, including state population, job creation, capital investment, number or projects and diversity of investment.

“It’s meaningful to be mentioned in that,” said John Lummus, president and chief executive of the Upstate Alliance economic development marketing organization. “It has a real good readership and a real good reputation.”

South Carolina’s silver came in the category of states with populations of 5-8 million. It was joined by Indiana and Tennessee. The Gold Shovel in that category went to Arizona.

States in other population categories achieving gold were Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia. North Carolina earned a silver among states of 8-12 million.

“When you’re in the marketing business, you always want to be on the top of people’s minds,” said John Truluck, Dorchester County economic development director. “It’s always good to hear good news about yourself.”

In its reporting, Area Development specifically mentioned three South Carolina projects:

- ServiceMac’s 1,000-job, $24 million announcement in Lancaster County

- Draexlmaier’s 460-job, $42.7 million announcement in Spartanburg County

- Google’s $600 million announcement in Charleston County

“Draexlmaier’s an incredible story since they’ve come to the Upstate,” Lummus said.

The automotive supplier opened a Duncan facility in 1998. It has expanded multiple times since then, including a 94-job, $35 million announcement in 2015.

“They continue to be an elite company in the Upstate,” Lummus said.

James Gilbert, economic development director for Lancaster County, said his county wasn’t originally on ServiceMac’s short list. When they finally got the chance to present to the mortgage subservicing company, they emphasized the county and state’s ability to help entrepreneurs realize their dreams.

“That message resonated with them,” Gilbert said.

When it comes to these Area Development awards, the Palmetto State is a perennial contender. It earned gold in 2011-12 and 2014-16 and silver in 2009-10, 2013 and 2017-18.

“It’s a big deal, but it would probably be a bigger deal by now if we weren’t named,” Truluck said. “South Carolina’s known for being aggressive and doing real well in economic development.”

Gilbert said leadership at the S.C. Department of Commerce and gubernatorial level has played a role in the state’s continued success in landing major projects.

“(Secretary of Commerce) Bobby Hitt’s tremendous and has built a great team there,” he said.

Lummus pointed to South Carolina’s efforts in areas such as workforce development, as well as cooperation between economic development players at the state, regional and local levels.

“We call ourselves Team SC and we’re a pretty good team, I think,” he said.

Link to Area Development article: