From Albania to Zimbabwe, there’s a chamber of commerce in nearly every country in the world.
The size, scope and impact of these organizations varies drastically, but at the core, the function remains the same: seeking to further collective business interests while advancing the community.
With thousands of chambers operating over hundreds of years, you’d think the model would have evolved to perfection. Yet, here in Spartanburg, they do things a little differently.
True to Spartanburg’s unique, collaborative community, the Spartanburg Chamber, the Spartanburg Economic Futures Group, and the Spartanburg Convention & Visitors Bureau operate as one.
DRIVING PROGRESS TOGETHER.
For years, the three entities have worked together to drive Spartanburg’s economy.
Carter Smith, EVP of Spartanburg’s Economic Futures Group, was serving as associate vice president of economic development for the Spartanburg Chamber when the call came in. BMW was looking to bring a plant to Spartanburg to build the Ultimate Driving Machine. That call changed everything for Spartanburg.
Suddenly, Spartanburg was on the map. With increased demand, the Spartanburg County Economic Development Corporation formed in 2000. Seven years later, the SEDC was morphed into the Economic Futures Group that is under the Chamber umbrella today. Since its inception, it has assisted Spartanburg County in attracting companies to including Amazon, Toray, Adidas, and Keurig.
As the Economic Futures Group helps each company navigate Spartanburg’s economic landscape, the Chamber is at the table to help fill talent needs.
STRENGTHENING SPARTANBURG’S VISION.
With economic development booming, Spartanburg began to see a higher density of visitors. The late former Pacolet Mayor Elaine Harris and former Spartanburg County Councilwoman Jane Hall were paying attention. Tourism, too, needed its own legs. In partnership with Spartanburg County, the Chamber hired Chris Jennings as Executive Vice President of the Spartanburg Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Together, the group set about creating its first tourism action plan in 2009. Spartanburg would focus on its charm: culture, history, arts and recreation. The five pillars set the foundation for today’s success.
That success? It’s exceeding expectations. Today, Spartanburg is seeing some of the fastest hotel stock growth in South Carolina. A hotspot for sports tourism, Spartanburg hosts national softball tournaments, the Carolina Panthers Training Camp, and is where the country first heard the name Zion Williamson.
Spartanburg is flourishing. And everyone wants to keep it that way. The chamber knows that great growth requires great responsibility. On Jan. 24, 2017, 280 community members gathered to launch a five-year community and economic development strategy known as OneSpartanburg, a plan to rally around one united vision to continue to build one strong economy.
The strategy focuses on four key drivers – talent, image, economy and place, designed to raise levels of prosperity throughout Spartanburg County.
With two years under their belts, the Spartanburg Chamber’s collaborative model has proved essential in leading the strategic work. And a new entity has been born into the family. Spartanburg’s Downtown Development Partnership, one of the first wins of the OneSpartanburg strategy, is responsible for building a vibrant downtown and attracting investment and jobs to the heart of our city.
The hub of the Upstate, Spartanburg has a strong history of success and, in recent years, we’ve found ourselves. Others are finding out about us, too. We were found to be the eighth-fastest growing small-metro nationwide for millennials between 2012-2017, and the #OneSpartanburg social media campaign, highlighting Spartanburg and its assets, has collected more than 34,400 posts on social media outlets.
All of this collaboration? It’s working. In the past two years, $1.6 billion in economic investment has come through Spartanburg County. And we were named the eighth-fastest growing small-metro area for millennial growth.
Under one roof, led by one CEO, the chamber is one team driving five missions. When it comes to talent, they’re all at the table. When it comes to investment, they all pitch in. When it comes to inclusion, they’re all on board. When it comes to branding, well, There’s Only One. Spartanburg.
The chamber leverages each other’s relationships and resources to put Spartanburg in the best position possible. The model keeps the groups lean, informed, and on the lookout for collaborative opportunities.
Visit the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce website for additional information.
Article appears in BusinessView and was written by the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce. BusinessView is a collaboration with community partners that is your informative resource guide to learning about the economic vitality and lifestyle environment of Spartanburg County.