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How do you begin your typical workday? Coffee, catching up on the news, and reading emails?

Now imagine accomplishing those tasks while en route to work, traveling 75 mph along Interstate 85, or while navigating the stop-and-go of city driving. All within a safely controlled vehicle — and without the expense of a chauffeur.

There are currently 26 "right-to-work" states in the in the United States, which means just over half of the country has laws that directly address compulsory union membership. In most states like South Carolina – which has had its law on the books since 1954 – the statute has been in effect for decades. Now that a handful of states have added such laws in the past few years, the topic has risen back to the top of public discourse, often with some controversy. 

Hidden beneath our roads, rail, office and industrial space, there’s another crucial part of infrastructure: water and sewer. When you think about it, no business can exist without clean water and sanitation for workers. When water is an integral part of the core business, such as with manufacturing in the Upstate, it becomes even more important.  

Investments in our water-sewer infrastructure yield large payoffs. Spartanburg Water, for instance, has found that every dollar spent on water yields $12 of economic development investment. It’s nearly double for sewer spending: $1 spent on sewer yields $23 of direct economic investment. The agency makes economic development part of its focus, working closely with the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Futures Group to understand and help meet economic development goals.    

A standing-room-only crowd gathered in Greenville at SCBIO Live on November 9 and 10. The aim was to learn and collaborate to continue the steady expansion of South Carolina's life sciences ecosystem.

The event was full of practical takeaways for industry practitioners, from research and collaboration to funding and product development. Several broader takeaways from the general session offered a positive outlook for those with an eye on economic development. 

Last month, the Upstate SC Alliance welcomed six site selection consultants for a familiarization tour of the Upstate. While the primary purpose of the visit was to educate these business location experts on our region’s capacity to accommodate new industries and to showcase innovation assets, the visiting site selectors also shared their insights during a panel discussion sponsored by Nexsen Pruet and Alliance Consulting Engineers.

There’s more to Upstate research and development (R&D) than RPMs. Given our region’s success in creating an ecosystem for automotive manufacturing and research, it’s understandable that many people think of cars first when it comes to research and development.

This week, the Upstate SC Alliance will be part of a South Carolina delegation to the world’s largest rubber and plastics trade show, K 2016 in Düsseldorf, Germany. Occurring just once every three years, the last event drew 218,000 visitors and 3,200 exhibiters from 59 countries.

Japan’s footprint in the Upstate is worth pausing to consider.