Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Manufacturing Growth in the Greenville – Spartanburg Corridor a Direct Result of Government Economic Programs and Support

Refuting Conservatives in the Heart of Conservative Country

It is recognized by just about everyone except radicalized ideologues that economic progress in advanced countries must have (1) the support of private business, (2) an energetic, educated and skilled labor and (3) government support and nurturing.  Conservatives of course only recognize the role of the private company.  To them labor is the enemy and government is worse than being the enemy, it is what stands in the way of progress.

It is also well known and accepted that clusters of business investment, educated and trained labor force and government support primarily in the form of education and infrastructure are the basis for economic success in such places as Austin, Silicon Valley, Seattle and other places.  Perhaps the best example is the Research Triangle in North Carolina.  There more than 40 years ago government partnered with business to create one of the strongest economic regions in the world. 

The Triangle part of the Research Triangle was three lines connected Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.  At the edges were three great universities, Duke, UNC and North Carolina State.  The state of North Carolina, working with those colleges and others in the region developed the area inside that triangle as an industrial park for business.  Also aiding the success was the fact that the airport that served those three cities was located inside the Triangle.  All in all the Research Triangle is a monument to and a model of successful government support of business and education.

A similar success has happened in South Carolina, with a great dose of irony.

But for a hopeful look into America's future, just visit the Greenville/Spartanburg corridor, a good example of the type of manufacturing "hub" powering growth throughout the U.S.

Drive by the big BMW auto plant, the General Electric gas-turbine factory, Michelin's North American headquarters, and the scores of suppliers, chemical companies, and fabricators sprinkled along Interstate 85. 

How has this happened in one of the poorer regions of the South?  Part of the success is a non-union workforce and low taxes, but take a look at this diagram and notice the dominant presence of state educational institutions.  Notice also Interstates 85 and 26 which connect the region to the east coast markets and ports.  Major infrastructure/transportation projects, Greenville Spartanburg airport, a very easy to use regional facility located in the middle of the region, and Charlotte International airport are not shown, but both have been very important to the growth in that region.


The lesson, government has to have a role in economic growth and development.  The irony, South Carolina is dominated by Conservative Republicans who don’t believe that.  The reality, it’s there right in front of them.

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