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.

Conferences and Certifications

I just got back from a National Resume Writer Association (NRWA) Conference that was held in Charleston, SC. I love Charleston: the gardens, the history, the food, the beach and harbor. The shrimp and grits, spanish moss, sweetgrass baskets, andcamellias. All these make Charleston one of my favorite places.

But that is not what I want to discuss. I really enjoyed going to the conference. We had sessions Wednesday through Saturday, and I have to admit my brain was full. The sessions covered topics that I am very interested in and applied directly to the job seekers that I work with. Conferences provide an opportunity to learn up-to-date strategies and best practices that other people in the field are using. They also provide you a chance to hear from experts that you are not likely to meet or hear from in other ways.

But the biggest reason I enjoyed the conference was the people that I met. We were able to discuss at the table how our work and lives are going with others who really understand. There were also opportunities to interact with each other between and after the workshops. I found these discussions to be very valuable and revealing into the industry. It is one thing to read about what someone does, it is another to speak with others who do the work you desire.

It is interesting to see how different the peoples’ jobs and employers were. Many writers were self-employed or worked for small companies. Some worked for government agencies. But usually there was a desire to help people, sometimes even at the detriment of the business.

Resume writers are a diverse group with wide differences in ability, experience and professionalism. Being a member of an association does not guarantee expertise, but is does usually suggest a high degree of caring about doing their best.

A new development that we are beginning to see with conferences is that some are going to be virtual. They will be like a series of webinars or group chat rooms where you can attend from the comfort of your home. Since travel and gas cost are rising, as well as our lives seem to be getting busier, having conferences on line is a very attractive idea.

I do see some negatives. First, we are already having less face-to-face contact with other people, especially peers. Many resume writers work from home and often interact with their clients online. There is a big advantage to interactive with people who share an interest.

Another negative is that by going to another location you can better separate yourself from the distractions that bombard us. Yes, most of the attendees were still tethered to their smart phones /notebooks / laptops, but they were still better able to focus on their reasons for coming.

I hope that we can take advantage of both types of conferences. Seeing the virtual conference as a way to complement the conferences that are more costly and inconvenient can allow us to increase our knowledge and best practices.

I strongly advise you to find an association in your industry and become a part of it. Many of them allow you to earn a certification that will provide additional training and verify your abilities to your clients. It is important to do your research; all certifications are not the same. I found that a good way to determine which certification to get is look at your peers and see what they have. Then ask them (Yes, actually speak with them. Okay, you CAN email them but since my whole post is about meeting people, who don’s expect me to advocate email, do you?) if the certification was worth it.

We are in a period where who you know and what you know are both important.  Our jobs, technology, and our world are all changing at an ever increasing pace. Conferences and certifications are two ways we can stay up to date in our fields. Good luck in your growth.

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.