Hal Johnson, President/CEO of Upstate Alliance, presented his annual report to council with 2011 credits and a review of the first quarter of 2012 with mission trips, upstate events and tradeshows and conferences scheduled. “We leverage resources of many to market to the Upstate,” Johnson said.
Johnson reported 5,411 announced jobs were recruited to the upstate in 2011. Those jobs are announced through the state commerce department. Many other jobs are created through private enterprises that work with community entities. BB&T, for example, located a retail loan call center at its building on Memorial Drive that created 140 jobs and renovated its top two floors. Walmart Neighborhood Market and Kohl’s, on Wade Hampton Blvd., will create another 100 jobs or more each when they open.
A trend Johnson has seen in the past two to three months is for companies taking big box stores, “tearing them down and putting products on site.” National retail reports indicate big box stores like Best Buy and Kohl’s are reducing their store sizes while still maintaining inventory.
Johnson said the upstate’s biggest problem is the lack of structures with 750,000 square feet of space. “We don’t have that space and that takes us of play,” Johnson said.
Upstate Alliance has scheduled mission trips to Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, Korea and China.
The most encouraging sign, Johnson said “Is this is the first time in four years we have had investors call and ask us to invest in us, instead of us calling them.”
Council gave quick unanimous approval to one resolution and three ordinances:
• Approved on first reading a resolution adopting language for the city’s financial policies and procedures.
• Approved on first reading an ordinance amending an ordinance to entitle an ordinance for issuance and sale of a general obligation bond not to exceed $1.496 million.
• Approved on first reading an ordinance to annex property (0.26 acres) owned by W. Terry Dobson at 127 Vernon Street and establish a R-12 (residential single family) zoning classification. The property is zoned R-12 in Greenville County. The planning commission will hold a public hearing on the request on April 16.
• Approved on first reading of an ordinance to provide for the closure of a portion of Hubert Street, an unopened right-of-way.
Council met in executive session for one economic development and three contractual issues. Council reported no decisions were made.