The growth rate of the economy of Upstate South Carolina has been among those ranked as the fastest in the United States of America. The region has grown expansively from a traditionally textile-manufacturing region to a diverse and vast economic region endowed with almost each and every industry in the United States. A number of reasons are responsible for this growth. These reasons include the availability of skilled workers, considerably low costs of conducting business and excellent educational and training institutions that yield high qualified workers.
These are some of the reasons that made BMW and Michelin establish their North American headquarters in Greenville. This research paper will look at the economic history of Upstate South Carolina and its towns. Agriculture was the main economic activity in Upstate South Carolina before the onset of the industrialization period that saw the introduction of other industries in the region (Weir 67). Although tourism is the current leading source of income to the Upstate South Carolina, agriculture still contributes a substantial amount of income to the region.
Upstate South Carolina is richly endowed with fertile soils that facilitate extensive mechanized cultivation of the cotton crop (South Carolina Department of Agriculture 13). The availability of this crop, coupled with the easy accessibility of water power, has led to the establishment of large textile and clothing industries which are centered in the piedmont. In the recent past, crop farmers in Upstate South Carolina have realized the need to diversify the range of crops grown and break away from the traditional cotton farming (Wallace 34). This has led to the cultivation of crops such as tobacco, sweet potatoes, peaches, soybeans and pecans. The growth of these crops has led to food sufficiency in the region. The fertile soils of Upstate South Carolina have also led to the emergence of lumbering activities and the manufacture of paper and pulp. These three economic activities derive their raw materials from the large forestland that covers a significant portion of the state.
It is estimated that the size of land that is under tree cultivation is about five million hectares (Barry 98). The main species of trees grown are the loblolly pine and the longleaf which are ideal for paper manufacturing. A few decades after Greenville was termed as the “Textile Capital of the World,” it is amazing that it is now among the leading towns in Upstate South Carolina in terms of the developments of the automobile industry. The town is now home to leading international automobile industries such as Michelin, BMW, General Electric Company, Honeywell, 3M and the Lockhead Martin Aircraft and Logistics Center (Bainbridge 145).
The towns of Spartanburg and Anderson have also advanced greatly in their economic status. For instance, Spartanburg is the headquarters of huge companies such as the QS/1 Data systems, Extended Stay Hotels, Advance America and Milliken and Company. Anderson is home to over two hundred and thirty manufacturers which include twenty two international companies. It is widely known for the plastic and automotive industries. Like the rest of the York counties, the towns of Spartanburg and Anderson are known for their extensive supply of BMW vehicles.
It is evident from the foregoing discussion that Upstate South Carolina has gone through various stages of development in its economic history. The region has moved from its tradition of textile manufacturing to the development of other industries such as the automobile industry. The towns of Greenville, Anderson, Spartanburg and the York Counties have been at the center of this transformation.
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South Carolina Department of Agriculture. Cotton Mills of South Carolina: Their Names, Location, Capacity, and History. New York: Charleston, 1880. Print. Wallace, David.
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