UNION COUNTY — The year 1992 changed the South which 24 years later now has the world’s fourth-largest economy according to Alliance Consulting Engineers President Deepal S. Eliatamby.
According to its website (www.allianceCE.com) Alliance Consulting Engineers, Inc. “was founded on the concept that our clients want in-depth personal involvement for today’s complex projects. Our hands-on approach guides the client from conceptual planning through final design, permitting, and construction. Using traditional business practices and the latest technology, Alliance Consulting Engineers, Inc.’s mission is to demonstrate our commitment to our clients through responsiveness, experience, and quality results.”
Headquartered in Columbia, Alliance has offices in Bluffton, Charleston, and Greenville, as well as in Charlotte, NC.
On March 2, SC Gov. Nikki Haley announced the formation of a “Local Government Competitiveness Council,” appointing Eliatamby to the council to to “evaluate local government’s Public Infrastructure in an effort to better attract, retain and develop business and industry.”
Less than a month after his appointment to the Local Government Competitiveness Council, Eliatamby was the featured speaker at the Union County Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Members Banquet last Thursday at Philippi Baptist Church.
In his address, Eliatamby said that there are 7 billion people worldwide, a number that includes the 1 billion who live in the “developed world” and 6 billion who live in the “developing world.” Of the 1 billion inhabitants of the developed world, 335 million live in the United States of America, which Eliatamby said has the largest economy in the world with a Gross Domestic Product of $17.5 trillion. By contrast, Eliatamby said that China, with a population of 1.4 billion, has Gross Domestic Product of only $10.5 trillion, or $7 trillion less than America’s. He added that Japan’s economy has a Gross Domestic Product of $4.6 trillion while Germany has a gross domestic product of $3.9 trillion.
Eliatamby also pointed out that, if it were an independent country, the American South would have the world’s fourth-largest economy in terms of Gross Domestic Product. As for how the South became the world’s fourth-largest economy, Eliatamby pointed to the year 1992, the year that he said “changed the South.” Eliatamby said that was the years that BMW, which he said had up until then always built its cars in Germany, chose to locate its first plant outside of its native country in Greer, South Carolina.
The impact of this decision has been enormous, according to Eliatamby, who pointed out that BMW now employs approximately 9,000 people at its South Carolina facility while another 25,000 are employed by its suppliers in the Upstate. Eliatamby pointed out that since BMW made its decision, other automotive manufacturers have followed suit, locating production and other facilities throughout the South. They include Mercedes, Honda and Hyundai, which have facilities in Alabama; Toyota, which Eliatamby has a plant in Kentucky with more than 9,000 employees as well as facilities in Mississippi and Texas, and relocated its North American headquarters from California to Texas; General Motors which has facilities in Texas, Tennessee, and Kentucky; Nissan, which has facilities in Tennessee and Mississippi; and Kia which has a facility in Georgia.
After 2009, however, Eliatamby said no new automotive plants located in the South, an interregnum in the growth automotive manufacturing that lasted until 2015 when two automotive companies announced plans to build new facilities in the South. The companies were Mercedes Benz and Volvo and the state they chose to locate their new facilities in was South Carolina.
“That’s not big folks, that’s huge,” Eliatamby said.
Automobiles need tires, and Eliatamby said that there are now five tire manufacturers located in South Carolina including Michelin, Continental, Bridgestone, Giti, and Trelleborg. He pointed out that Michelin has 10 production facilities in South Carolina, eight of them in the Upstate.
In addition to the automotive and tire industries, Eliatamby pointed out that aviation manufacturing has also become a major part of the economy of South Carolina and the rest of the South. In South Carolina, there’s Boeing which located in Charleston and now employs 8,000 people at its production facility there. Eliatamby said that Boeing is one of several aircraft manufactures to locate in the South including Airbus in Alabama, Gulfstream in Georgia, and Honda Aircraft in North Carolina.
Eliatamby added that the economic investment by Boeing and the jobs it is creating is also promoting population growth in the Charleston area. He said that an average of 43 people are now moving into the Charleston area each day.
This population growth is not confined to the Charleston area, either. Eliatamby pointed out that the growth South Carolina has experienced through the growth of its manufacturing sector has also spurred the state’s population growth which increased by 15 percent between 2000 and 2010.
Eliatamby pointed out that South Carolina’s exports have grown 246 percent and that, since 2011, the state has received more than $13 billion in new foreign investment creating more than 29,000 new jobs.
All of the investment, new factories, new jobs and economic development South Carolina, including Union County, has enjoyed is, according to Eliatamby, the rest of the community investing in itself. If the state and its constituent counties are to continue to enjoy such success, Eliatamby the community must continue investing in itself, even if it’s years before the community begins to get a return on its investment.
Deepal S. Eliatamby, P.E., SCCED, President of Alliance Consulting Engineers, was the featured speaker at Thursday’s Union County Chamber of Commerce Annual Member Banquet at Philippi Baptist Church. Eliatamby spoke on economic development and the success South Carolina and the rest of the South has experienced in attracting that development.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or [email protected]