Upstate SC Alliance Blog
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September 25, 2017
This summer, our team was pleased to welcome its first intern in several years to work alongside us for six weeks and glean insights into economic development, our region, and the role of public-private partnerships. 
Our intern, a German college student who attended high school in Greenville, provided us with a greater understanding of German culture and the experiences that expats have in our community. We’re grateful for his service and invited him to share some reflections on his time here: 
Marco-blog-teaser.pngTell us about yourself, and why you wanted to work with the Upstate SC Alliance:
I am Marco Linner, a college Junior at the Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich. I attended high school in Greenville and moved afterwards back to my home country, Germany. I am double majoring in economics and political science and I work part time for a real estate agency. In my free time, I like to play golf and work out. The Upstate SC Alliance gave me the opportunity to combine my two majors since economic development is really the meeting point of politics and economics. 
What tasks or learning opportunities have you been given during your time here?:
The team took a lot of their time to show me all sides of economic development and introduce me to many investors, businesses and service providers. I was able to shadow multiple local developers as well as a site consultant. On normal office days, I also helped Elizabeth with enhancing the capital investment report, Bonnie with the Global Competitiveness Council, and Aimee with consolidating a list of ther region's workforce development programs. I also supported Danielle with event preparation and advocacy research.
How has your experience with the Upstate Alliance related to your coursework?:
I am surprised how much of my coursework came in handy to understand things I was exposed to the last six weeks. The most significant field where theory met practice was probably with the Upstate Chamber Coalition, an advocacy organization for business-friendly policies. 
I participated in a meeting with them where we identified legislative priorities for the upcoming South Carolina General Assmebly and then researched key points of these bills. This helped me to understand the American legislation process and how bills move through the chambers. It also gave me better understanding of how the American tax system works in practice and how it can be used as an incentive to attract businesses. 
Is there anything surprising about the work that we do? If so, please tell:
I never realized that workforce is such a huge issue! While most places in the world struggle with a high unemployment rate, the Upstate struggles with a shortage of skilled workers. I never realized this, thus I never realized how many workforce development programs are out there. 
You have also interned with Audi and Magna Interiors and worked in real estate in Germany. What similarities and differences exist between these experiences?:
I would say the biggest difference is the working environment. While most people I previously worked with (in Germany) are often "working against each other," the Upstate Alliance is very supportive to each other: This can be seen in both daily tasks like excel/ computer skills and business related duties like research data, reports or sharing of stories and contacts to represent the region.
Your internship experience has included insight into business recruitment and investor and community relations. What takeaways from these areas will inform your future work?:
Both BR and IR are areas of economic development where expertise and social skills are combined. You can convince a prospect to come to the US by numbers, but it is also necessary to create an emotional connection, showing and illustrating them that the Upstate is the #1 region to settle down on the east coast. Same applies for investors: It is not sufficient to show a potential investor that financial support is necessary, but also how they benefit from it as well as how they can help to further drive the economic development in SC with it. I think you have to create some trust first. 
What will be your fondest memory from your time here?:
One time, I had the opportunity to participate in a meeting with a potential prospect. It was a German company planning on coming to the US. They did not know that I was German, so they started chatting in German. I heard that they were worried about quality of life in the Upstate, so I used the moment to surprise them with my German and I was able to help alleviate their worries, by sharing with them my own experience. We had great conversations afterward and the visitors seemed much more at ease. Also, visiting the Duke Power Bad Creek Plant in Oconee County was really impressive. 
Is there anything else you want to share?:
I thank the whole team for their love and support during the last six weeks. I was able to learn a lot about economic development from you and I really enjoyed my time here. It's not a goodbye, it’s a see you later!

TOPICS: International, "Workforce Attraction"


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