Colleges & universities provide an essential economic development role


Last Thursday, I attended my first alumni event since graduating from Clemson University, one of South Carolina’s public research universities, and joining the CRDA Global Business Development team.

By spending the last 8 months working closely with company executives and hearing them speak first-hand on the necessity for a strong talent pool to help their companies grow and be successful, my perspective on South Carolina’s colleges and universities has been transformed as we rely on these institutions to support the greater economic development of the Charleston region.

University President Jim Clements highlighted the national recognition Clemson received this year for its success in providing the future talent needed for economic growth as this year’s recipient of the Association of Public & Land Grant Universities’ (APLU) Talent Award, winning out of 238 other public higher education institutions.

The APLU recognized Clemson for its creative approaches to talent development by building partnerships with other education & workforce institutions (including ReadySC and the SC Technical College system), being responsive to the business community, and ensuring students have the experiences and skills to be adaptive and competitive in today’s global marketplace.

In Clemson’s Center for Career and Professional Development Annual Report, 44% of the respondents took job positions in one of South Carolina’s metro regions. Clements stressed at the event the importance of Clemson’s role in fulfilling this mission for the state. The university will be expanding its presence in the Charleston region in the Fall with the grand opening of the Zucker Family Graduate Center to offer Masters & PhD level degree programs, adding 200+ students, 12 faculty, and 40 researchers & staff.

As the Charleston economic landscape and the types of talent in demand change, Clemson University is just one of the many South Carolina educational institutions working hard to supply the talent to match the current and future job opportunities within the Charleston region. Over 40,000 students are enrolled locally at the colleges and universities with 8,400 annual graduates.

Recently, six of South Carolina’s universities made the Forbes’ Best Value Schools 2016 list. The success of our colleges and universities and success of our economic development efforts goes hand-in-hand.

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