Steven Pearce is in his first few months as President and CEO of the South Carolina I-77 Alliance yet already has deep experience here and a clear vision for how the Alliance can broaden its ability to encourage new and expanding industry in the dynamic corridor between Charlotte and Columbia.
Pearce joins the Alliance from the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, where as Senior Vice President of Business Recruitment he oversaw lead generation, recruitment, business retention, and expansion efforts across a 15-county region that spans the Carolinas.
Below he shares some thoughts about what lies ahead for the SC I-77 Alliance and economic growth in York, Lancaster, Chester, Fairfield, and Richland counties.
“This is a fantastic place to do business. The people here have long invested in the areas of education, infrastructure, real estate, and many others, to establish the I-77 corridor as a preferred location. Our progress going forward will be built on the shoulders of those who have come before.”Steven Pearce, President & CEO, S.C. I-77 Alliance
What made taking the helm of the SC I-77 Alliance attractive to you?
Steven Pearce: As an economic developer, the products I sell are the communities that I represent. This state and this region have a fantastic reputation as a great place to do business and I’m thrilled to be a part in helping shape its continued growth.
Additionally, the economic development leaders in each of our five counties are experienced and talented. I was fortunate enough to already have relationships with several of them, but while doing my due diligence also was impressed with the accomplishments and capabilities of those that I did not yet know.
I feel fortunate to get to partner with these professionals and their teams, who clearly understand from experience how to accomplish their goals on the local level while they excel as strong regional partners.
How will your experience at the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance benefit industrial recruitment efforts in the SC I-77 Corridor?
SP: I was tasked there with leading a team of talented economic developers to source new opportunities for jobs and investment for our region. I spent six years based in Charlotte and during that time, I really honed my skill set as a lead generator.
Economic development is about relationships and investing your time and energy in the right vectors of opportunity. Many of the relationships I’ve already built with site selection consultants and decision makers will still be valuable for what we do at the I-77 Alliance. I look forward to building on the momentum we built at the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance to have an even greater impact here.
What do you see as the major challenges facing economic developers in the Corridor and how will the Alliance help address them?
SP: Available workforce and buildings. Workforce is consistently ranked as the single top priority for executives deciding on a location. The pandemic has only heightened that challenge across the country. As the organization at the top of the sales funnel, it’s critical that we take what we learn from these executives back to our Alliance stakeholders, to help them focus on the best ways to build the talent pipeline.
Meanwhile, generally we have ample available land but few available buildings in the Corridor. The vast majority of industrial clients are considering options that our region can scarcely supply. At minimum, we need to invest in pad-ready sites, that have as much due diligence completed as possible, so that we mitigate risk for our clients and position ourselves for success.
Please share your vision on opportunities and the path forward for the Alliance and the counties it serves.
SP: We already know we can deliver additional value for all our stakeholders through a data-driven and relationship-focused approach that’s aligned with the assets of our local communities
Over the next five years, my vision for the SC I-77 Alliance is to establish us even more firmly as the go-to source for labor force data, economic indicators, sites, infrastructure, and other vital information about the region and its economy.
Additionally, consistent with our mission, our office will elevate the quality and quantity of the leads we source. We add the most value when we can identify new companies considering a location decision and help them understand the opportunity that the I-77 region offers.
Over the next few years, we also want to augment the financial resources of the organization by bringing new private investors into the fold. Our investor base should be a representation of all services that support new and expanding companies.
These investors are also well suited to help us sell this region as a great place to do business and to serve as subject matter experts, informing clients on all matters related to their specialty. We also will be adding opportunities to engage with us on a regular basis through the Business Recruitment Advisory Council and quarterly investor gatherings.
This is a fantastic place to do business. The people here have long invested in the areas of education, infrastructure, real estate, and many others, to establish the I-77 corridor as a preferred location. Our progress going forward will be built on the shoulders of those who have come before.