SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) — Upstate SC Alliance, a regional business development organization, held its annual meeting Friday at the Greenville Convention Center. The labor shortage in the country and the region was a prominent topic discussed by many of the speakers.
Overall in 2021, South Carolina announced $5.7 billion in new capital investment and 18,000 new jobs. The Upstate region made up almost half of that amount with $2.47 billion in capital investment and 8,745 new jobs added, according to John Lummus, president and CEO of Upstate SC Alliance.
Event speakers discussed methods of preparing the state’s manufacturing sector for a digital and automated future.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said he is working to build the infrastructure the state needs to transition to clean energy manufacturing.
“The electrification of the automobile is afoot. It is coming. There is no going back, and it’d be the biggest change in the last 100 years in transportation,” he said. “With the electrification of the of the car, which would be here by the middle of the century, [that] is going to change everything, not only about the environment but by the way we make cars and our life in general.”
Sen. Graham also said he would work with legislators to bring enough workers to the area to fill the need of local businesses.
“The workforce shortage in this country does not get better over time, demographically, for a declining population. So I want to create as many good opportunities for South Carolinians in their backyards, so they’ll never have to leave the state,” he told the audience.
“Without a rational immigration system, we will not survive in the fashion that we need in the 21st century. We’re going to have to come up with a way to bring people into our country when the native workforce is insufficient to meet your needs,” he said.
Keynote speaker Mike Mansuetti, president of Bosch North America, also addressed the workforce shortage.
“So as we consider how we’re adapting to overcome this talent scarcity, I think digital transformation is the way to attract, retain, and grow our associates,” he said.
Hundreds of guests attended the catered event.
Formed in 2000, the Upstate South Carolina Alliance is a public/private regional economic development organization designed to market and promote the dynamic, commerce-rich, northwestern corner of South Carolina, according to a statement from the organization.