During its meeting Monday, March 21, the Pickens County Council reversed a course it set back in 2012 when it voted to rejoin the Upstate SC Alliance.
The council vote was first reported by The Greenville News late Monday night.
John Lummus, president and CEO of Upstate SC Alliance, said the organization had talked about bringing Pickens County back into the alliance for some time, but those talks started to gain ground when the make-up of the council changed.
“I’ve been in my job for three years and we have always been interested in getting all of the organizations in the region together,” Lummus told GSA Business Report Tuesday. “The new county councilmen took office in January and they were particularly interested in rejoining our efforts.”
Lummus said the Upstate SC Alliance board will not have to vote to bring the county back in, but the county will “have to make a commitment to the organization.” Part of that commitment includes contributing $58,000 per year to the alliance. The rate is determined by the population of the county.
Ray Farley, executive director of Alliance Pickens — the economic development organization that has been marketing Pickens County — said the decision will not impact his daily work.
“We will be the beneficiary of the good graces of Upstate Alliance and the assets that will bring to us, but our plan of work will not change,” he said.
Farley said being a part of Upstate Alliance is another tool as his disposal and that he is “happy to be a part of it again.”
“I think Ray Farley has done an incredible job in his role and, particularly in the last five years,” Lummus said. “He is one of the best economic developers in the state and we are happy to have him back on board.”
Lummus said having Pickens County back in the alliance strengthens the regional approach to attracting companies to the Upstate.
“We work together, very closely, with economic developers on the city and county level,” Lummus said. “They look to us to help with their marketing efforts and attract companies. Regionalism has been successful and regions can market themselves much better than individuals.
“When we go to Japan, China or Germany and we talk about the Upstate, people may now know where that is, but when we talk about the industries here and the Port of Charleston, then people start to take notice. You have to market yourself as a region.”
According to Alliance Pickens’ website, the county added Zero Connect, era-contact GmbH and JR Automation Technologies in 2016. Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Co. announced an expansion of its operations at the Pickens County Commerce Park in April 2016.
GSA Business Report staff reporter Teresa Cutlip contributed to this story.