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Building Wealth for the Long Term

Posted by: Hank Hyatt on Wednesday, September 11, 2013
The 2013 Regional Economic Scorecard, funded in part by the Chamber’s ACCELERATE! initiative, was released to a group of the region’s top business and community leaders today. The Scorecard focuses on how economically competitive the region is compared to peer and target regions across the Southeast.  The ultimate measure of an economy’s competitive position is Per Capita Personal Income (PCPI). While simple, the measure is not simplistic.  PCPI is produced by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and is used by economists across the globe.  Greenville’s PCPI relative to the nation has fallen for ten out of the past eleven years. The decline follows a period of about fifteen years during which our PCPI grew faster than the nation. To put this in real dollar terms, the gap between Greenville County’s PCPI in 2011 and the U.S. PCPI was worth $1.7 billion.  This shows how significantly underperforming our economy has been.  We can do better and we know how to do better. What drives PCPI growth? Again, there is a simple, but not simplistic, answer:
  • Human Capital
  • Innovative Activity
  • Entrepreneurial Environment
  • Industry Strength.
None of these focus areas in and of themselves is a silver bullet.  All areas must have focused resources committed to them so that we can accelerate our PCPI growth.  Until we are again above the national PCPI level, our companies and our residents are not as prosperous as they should be. Is this a short-term issue? No, this is a multi-generational issue. It’s a matter not just of  changing organizational focus areas in the near term but also of changing the culture in our region.   The Chamber’s visit to Pittsburgh in October is going to focus on how they successfully changed their culture after the meltdown of the steel industry.  Thankfully, they had supported entrepreneurs such as Carnegie, Mellon and Heinz for years as they slowly build their high-wealth-generating industries, leaving behind significant assets which helped to ease their transition into a new economy. Greenville needs to understand that we are in the same marathon-like race for the future.  By doing the day-to-day work now of supporting high-impact entrepreneurs in our own region, we will one day reap the benefits of having globally-impactful headquarters, some with foundations that will benefit the region for generations to come.

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