A Good Example of a Manufacturing Hub

The benefits of manufacturing hubs or "clusters" --- the "geographic concentrations of interconnected companies and institutions in a particular field" --- have long been recognized by academics (see HBR). The successful applications of this model in places like Silicon Valley, Seattle (for aircraft design), and West Virginia (for chemicals) have become textbook examples. Recently, Prince George County, VA got lots of attention from media as well when Rolls-Royce partnered with several leading universities in the region to build a research center for advanced manufacturing.

WSJ has a report today, introducing a modern manufacturing hub forming in the Greenville/Spartanburg corridor in South Carolina. The area used to be a hub for the textile industry before textiles moved abroad. But the region’s technical schools, flexible labor market, good infrastructure, effective supply chain, and incentives from the state attracted big manufacturers like GE, GM, BMW, and Michelin. These companies have built a symbiosis between factories and schools through apprentice programs, summer camps, and education programs in finance, transportation, and logistics and supply-chain management. The best part? Companies who directly fund these projects realized that “it’s not always done with the expectation of hiring,” “it’s for five years down the road, keeping that talent coming through” not only for them but also for their suppliers in the area as well.