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CRDA 2015 Annual Luncheon: Top 5 Takeaways from Charleston’s Industry Leaders

Last month, the Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA) brought together the metro’s top industry leaders for its annual luncheon. Held on the campus of Trident Technical College, the event was an opportunity community’s businesses, government and academic leaders to collaborate on how the region can further strengthen its rapidly growing economy and workforce.

The highlights was the panel “Catalysts for Regional Prosperity: A Global Business Perspective featuring some of the region’s biggest job creators:

  • Katarina Fjording, Vice President & General Manager of Volvo Car Americas—This year, Swedish-based Volvo Cars chose the Charleston region for its first North American factory—a $500 million facility in Berkeley County expected to create up to 4,000 jobs. As many as 100,000 “Made in America” vehicles will be manufactured each year in the region when production begins in 2018.
  • Beverly Wyse, Vice President and General Manager of Boeing South Carolina—One of the region’s largest employers, Boeing has tripled its size since bringing its 787 Dreamliner final assembly and delivery plant to the region in 2009. To date, Boeing has invested more than $1 billion, created 7,000+ jobs, many of which are high-paying, and brought engineering, IT and R&D operations to the Charleston region.
  •  Anita Zucker, CEO of The InterTech Group—North Charleston-based global holding company, The InterTech Group has been a driving force in Charleston’s business community for years. One of the company’s latest ventures is a collaboration with USC to 3-D print aerospace parts, which could potentially be used for aircraft like Boeing’s 787.

As top executives from companies continually choosing to invest in the Charleston region, these influential leaders offered an “inside” take on Charleston’s competitive advantages. Here are just a few of their top takeaways:

1. Charleston offers the Resources of a Larger Region

“What’s interesting with Charleston—the whole region, the county and the state—is that, even if it may not be the largest, it really has the dynamics of a much larger region.”

– Katarina Fjording, Vice President Purchasing & Manufacturing, Volvo Car Americas

2. Charleston is Sincerely Business Friendly

“I would also like to thank everyone for the incredibly warm welcome. As [Carolyn] pointed out that’s part of the South and it encompasses not only making Charleston a wonderful place to live, but it also helps us from a business standpoint to attract and retain people. Boeing coming to [Charleston] has given us access to talent that we never would have had, had we not come to the region.”

– Beverly Wyse, Vice President & General Manager, Boeing South Carolina

“[Charleston] is one of the friendliest places I’ve ever been to—and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for embracing us and welcoming us into this community.”

– Katarina Fjording, Vice President Purchasing & Manufacturing, Volvo Car Americas

3. Charleston’s Infrastructure Offers Seamless Global Connections

“In Charleston, we compete globally every day. We’ve been lucky enough to add more flights and more airlines. That, in itself, allows us the opportunity to move across the world, essentially. And of course with the addition of technology, you can work around the clock, you can work from your home, you can work from anywhere and keep in touch…The ability the have our people move around and get where they need to go is the best…Our port makes it very easy for us to get our products around the world as well.”

– Anita Zucker, CEO, InterTech Group

“The support in the region—the tremendous infrastructure that’s here—is going to continue to make Charleston an incredible place for growth. [For Boeing], the fact that there is such a strong port…and access to the whole eastern seaboard and the major metropolitan areas being so close by, makes [Charleston] unique in that is has all this infrastructure, but also this very welcoming small town feel.  We couldn’t be happier to be part of the Charleston family.”

– Beverly Wyse, Vice President & General Manager, Boeing South Carolina

4. Charleston’s Community Prioritizes Business

“This is a very business-forward community—and there are loads of professionals who are engaged in their daily work and also in their free time. I’m amazed by all the people who are so interested and always looking for a business case. And that is an enormous strength of this community.”

–  Katarina Fjording, Vice President Purchasing & Manufacturing, Volvo Car Americas

5. The Charleston Region is Inspirational, Dynamic and Vibrant

In response to the final question: “What’s one word to describe the Charleston region?”
“Inspirational – I think we’ve got an incredible runway in front of us. Nobody who has lived in the Charleston region in the last year could not be proud of how this community has dealt with the challenges in front of us. And I think that speaks to the next decade and, hopefully, decades in front of us. I’m happy to be here and I’m inspired.”

– Beverly Wyse, Vice President & General Manager, Boeing South Carolina

“Dynamic – We talked about collaboration…and the way all of you rallied to get Volvo here…if you have that energy and that collaboration, you cannot lose.”

Katarina Fjording, Vice President Purchasing & Manufacturing, Volvo Car Americas

“Vibrant – Everybody is excited, everybody is filled with action—there’s so much opportunity. So, I see us as vibrant.”

– Anita Zucker, CEO, InterTech Group

Want to hear more about what these industry leaders have to say about Charleston? Click here to watch a video of the CRDA’s annual luncheon.

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