Welcome to Greenville

If you have recently moved to the area and you are either seeking employment or looking to further your career, the last advice you want to hear is to get out and begin to foster relationships with people you do not know, aka network. Yet that is exactly what you need to be spending the vast majority of your time and effort on. There is so much research out there claiming that the best strategy to find and build your career or business is to build connections with other people.

I got the pleasure of speaking with two gentlemen this week who have recently moved into the area. When I got into my ways-to-job-search spiel, their response was how can we meet people when we are new and don’t know anyone. The odd coincidence is that the majority of people here is not native and was at one time new to the area. This is not Charleston where you are a newcomer if you do not have generations of ancestors from the Holy City.  Greenville’s citizens are very mobile and, with the movement of new companies into the area, newcomers are continually finding Woodruff Road for the first time.

I help facilitate a class of job seekers for Greenville County Workforce Development. In one class of eight adults, we encountered this very hurdle. We began to go around the room and found that only two of the people were originally from this area. This has become a regular activity and subsequent classes have usually shown the same results.

So Tim, what are some ways you would suggest that I use to meet other like-minded professionals?

There are a couple of ways that I would suggest that should work in any area you find yourself.  First, I would look at social media. Facebook is a great avenue to connect with people and also to find where people of your interests are planning to meet. Downtown Greenville and City of Greenville are just two of many pages that can connect you to fellow enthusiasts.

LinkedIn can be used to find companies in the area. LI also has groups that are for this area: New Carolina, Greenville Area Development Corporation (great information on new companies and companies that are adding improvements in the area), Greenville Working, Today in Greenville, and …well, you get the idea. Groups enable you to see where they are meeting, what they are discussing and get involved in the discussions, and identify people you can contact to meet one-on-one.

Twitter is also a great way to follow companies and people and learn where they are planning an event. As you can see, these do not have to be exclusively business. Why do you think so many deals are done on the golf course?

Another suggestion is to see if there are any associations that meet in your area. The Kidder Group, Inc. has a great list on their website (http://www.thekiddergroup.com/images/t.jpg) of about seventy different groups and when and where they meet. Associations are one way to show your involvement within your profession and allow you to meet with and have a connection with people in your industry.

Another website that I am becoming more involved in is meetup.com. No, I am not having marital issues. This is a great website to publicize times and locations for gatherings with other people with your interests. Some of these are based on social as well as fitness interests.

The Newcomers Club of Greater Greenville’s main purpose is to welcome people who have recently moved into the area and to help smooth your transistion.

Most of the suggestions I have given you are free. But it still requires us to face two of our biggest fears: meeting new people and putting ourselves in unfamiliar situations. Both of these are tough for me. But you will find that unfamiliar situations begin to feel more familiar. And some of your best friends were once new.



Greenville Exports Increase In 2012

Living in the Greenville area, one realizes how much our economy is tied to manufacturing. We have been hearing for the last few years how manufacturing has declined, if not died, in America. We are up in arms at all the jobs we have lost to cheaper markets overseas, notably China. When we drive through the local hills, which I love to do on weekend, our eyes are often accosted by huge, empty plants and warehouses that are just wasting away. It is sad to see how quickly these buildings can go into disrepair. It will be huge asset if we can find uses for all of these buildings.

Last month, Greenville got an encouraging report on the state of manufacturing in the area. The US Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration’s report listed the Greenville area as the 25th largest export market in the United States. We had exports of $11.7 billion. That compares with Charleston, SC at $2.3 billion dollars.  This seems to affirm the feeling that Greenville is currently seeing a large influx of manufacturing companies moving into the area currently and in the near future. If you follow the GADC (Greenville Area Development Corporation) you will see that it seems weekly they are making an announcement of a large manufacturing plant or company moving into the area. Drawing companies to your area is a highly competitive business and Greenville seems to be more than holding its own. For it to be 25th in the nation, really says something.

Looking closer the area we are speaking of is Greenville, Mauldin, and Easley. This shows an increase of 34% between 2010 and 2011.

The reason that these manufacturing jobs are so important is that the jobs supported by exports are often better paying jobs than others, often by as much as 18%. Our fear during the downturn was that if we could replace the jobs we lost they would be at a lesser scale. Hopefully, with the resurgence in manufacturing in the area, we will also see the local household income rebound.

It is interesting to see where our exports are going: Germany, Canada, China, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. We have to remember when we see the companies on the labels of the products that they are also the companies who buy our products. The people who shout about closing our borders and only buying America, may want to take a step back and rethink their position.

Who Do You Listen To?

Too be successful, you have to start with good information. Good information for the local community is hard to find. This is hard to believe since we seem to be overwhelmed by noise, digital information and publications at every coffee shop. However, most of the information we get is national information or as deep as a bird bath. Even our local paper is half US News Today. For the local job seeker, you get rehash from CareerBuilder, One of the purposes I started this blog is to connect sources of information to people who are interested in furthering their businesses and careers.

One helpful source that I have found recently is the GSA Business that covers Greenville, Spartanburg, and Anderson. It comes out twice biweekly and concentrates, of course, on the local economy.

The last edition came out September 10.

One theme that I notice throughout the paper is the proliferation of new on engineering. Both USC (for this blog, USC is The Carolina Gamecocks) and Clemson. Both of these are having record numbers of freshman in their engineering programs. I like how USC let all the engineers have the same classes the first year and then they can decide where they want to specialize in. When I started Clemson, moons ago, I didn’t have a clue what I was getting into. I just knew I wanted to go to college. And blondes are cute. (Yes, I am shallow.)

I also liked the push that the colleges are giving to retaining the engineering students while in school and to keep them in South Carolina. Greenville has many selling points and that is why it is important that the schools have a presence downtown. The more people are involved in our community, the more likely they are to stay.

Rant warning: Our schools are having a great period of successful football squads. Clemson is coming off a championships season. USC is in the top ten and are primed to have a special season. We are nuts for our teams in normal years, this just adds to the fire. Each team is followed by dozens of blogs and reporters and kids who have not played a down is the talk on radio. We give all this attention to something that entertains us for just a few hours 14 times a week. Yet the people and programs involved in engineering labor in anonymity. Now I am not saying the need cheerleaders, bands, and chicken calls, but I am saying when you look at who will have more impact on your lives over their lifetime, our dollars, and a lot of them, may be supporting the wrong programs. Rant Over.

Attention engineering students, the list of engineering firms that GSA has is worth the price of admission.

Another source of local information is Ten At the Top. Ten At the Top was started to increase collaboration with the ten counties in the region. Their goal is to gather information and make successful connections to help people throughout the region.

Greenville has a committed business community and people who are willing to help others reach their goals.  I hope you will find these sources of information helpful. Please let me know if you have a source of information that you have find useful.