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Launch to Legacy – South Carolina’s Future Calling Card

Mar 01, 2024 06:32AM ● By C. Grant Jackson

The South Carolina Department of Commerce’s new branding initiative – Launch to Legacy – seeks to position the state to continue setting records for investment and job creation in transformative times as business adapts to continual technological change.

Unveiled in January at the state’s first Governor’s Economic Summit, the “Launch to Legacy” brand and tagline replaces the “Just Right” brand and aims to accelerate “an influx of high-value industries and wealth into all of South Carolina,” said South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Harry Lightsey. “Our objective is to facilitate targeted investment and job growth from competitive, sustainable, innovative, and value-added new and existing industries.”

But at the same time, the Department of Commerce is “keeping close eye on things like artificial intelligence, or AI, the decarbonization of the energy grid, automation, and platforms for seamless collaboration and what these technologies mean for industry and the workforce,” Lightsey said. 

 “It's important not to fear the changes that technology will bring, but rather to learn about and understand the technology, its current state, how industry is using it, and what advantages it can create, while balancing how to embrace the technology in a responsible and effective way.”

The most successful economies “are driven by innovative industries that evolve to meet the needs of a changing world. South Carolina – the world is changing,” Lightsey said.

Gov. Henry McMaster told summit attendees, “There are some places that understand business. Some places understand quite well how without business you can’t have prosperity. You can’t have anything. That is why we say South Carolina’s business is business.” 

People are moving to South Carolina more than any other state, McMaster said, and that is because of the state’s “economic growth, educational excellence, and environmental and cultural heritage.” 

South Carolina is paying attention to all three legs of the stool, and “all of those things added together produce a place where people want to live, to work, and raise a family,” the governor said.

Launch to Legacy is an effort to position the state to continue as an economic development powerhouse.

For 2023, South Carolina announced total capital investment of $9.22 billion representing 81 projects and 14,230 announced jobs. That was second to the 2022 record capital investment of $10.27 billion, 120 projects and 14,083 jobs. 

Those record investments have proven “the power that South Carolina has at helping companies thrive through transformational times,” said Deputy Secretary of Commerce Ashely Teasdel, as she outlined the rebranding effort and accompanying media campaign for the government officials and business executives. 

South Carolina “has shown repeatedly and reliably that we support our businesses for long-term success.” But no industry can escape the touch of changing technology, and neither can the state of South Carolina. South Carolina must continually position itself to meet the opportunities that come with transformation so that all its citizens can benefit from sustained economic development providing opportunities today and beyond, she said. 

“This kind of momentum demands a brand that will carry our state forward in the future.”

The Launch to Legacy brand and accompanying media campaign was developed by Bluffton-based 9Rooftops Marketing Agency at a cost to the state of $836,000 and took a year and a half. 

The process included “qualitative and quantitative research with more than 500 in-state, domestic and international shareholders,” according to Commerce, “to understand current perceptions of the state and what it means to do business here. Identify selling points that differentiate South Carolina from its competitors across the Southeast and the nation.”

The brand concentrates on three core areas, defined by commerce as:

·        “When you invest in South Carolina, you grow – as a business, a person and community.”

·        “South Carolina is built for the new economy – people can work where they live.”

·        “South Carolina is the new home and headquarters of American innovation.”

Launch to Legacy “reinforces the fact that companies can start here, they can thrive here, they can expand here, and they can build a legacy right here. And that is powerful,” Teasdel said.

The media campaign includes three television commercials featuring South Carolina business leaders Robert Engelhorn, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing in Greer; Lou Kennedy, owner, president and CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals in West Columbia; and Howard Coker, president and CEO of Sonoco in Hartsville, with each executive offering testimony why “South Carolina is success from launch to legacy.”

Lightsey said the Launch to Legacy brand positions South Carolina “to carry out our vision and strategic priorities. The messaging and reimagined logo reinforce our commitment to business as we continue to compete globally while building a high-tech, diverse, sustainable economy.”

As part of its efforts, In addition to advanced manufacturing, for which the state has long been a major hub, Commerce is going to actively target advanced energy companies, life sciences companies, and headquarters, Lightsey said. “I believe the South Carolina Department of Commerce believes that these three sectors have the greatest potential to ensure South Carolina’s sustainable advantage by creating economic opportunities to increase choices for all South Carolinians.” 

The state is already making strides in advanced energy. In October, South Carolina’s Nexus for Advanced Resilient Energy, or SC Nexus, was among 31 organizations named by the federal government as regional technology and innovation hubs. SC Nexus is now eligible to apply for $40 million to $70 million in grants to advance the organization’s efforts. 

A public/private consortium led by the state commerce department, SC Nexus has 35 members including the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, and the Savannah River National Laboratory. The organization is targeting “innovation and efforts geared toward enhancing energy generation, distribution and storage,” the University of South Carolina said in a release announcing the designation.

“SC Nexus hopes its work will result in the:

·        Development of deployable and exportable electricity technologies that accelerate manufacturing of energy components and materials, innovate new battery technologies and efficiently integrate advanced electricity sources into the grid.

·        Acceleration of high-quality job growth for a diverse workforce, with multiple education and training pathways through South Carolina’s broad education ecosystem.

·        Closure of infrastructure gaps in rural and distressed communities.

·        Enhancement of South Carolina’s ability to play a key role advancing the country’s competitiveness in the development and integration of globally leading electric-power technologies.”

“Receiving the federal tech hubs designation signals to the world that South Carolina has the necessary assets and infrastructure to create a real impact in the advanced energy resiliency sector,” McMaster said in a written statement at the time of the announcement. “We’re confident that SC Nexus’ concerted efforts will align our state as a leader in advanced energy technology development, contributing to our national security and bolstering energy independence.”

“Our ambition is nothing less than to become the recognized global leader – the Silicon Valley, if you will – in advanced energy,” said Lightsey. “Can we do it? Well, in the 1980s, no one would have thought that South Carolina would be a global automotive manufacturer powerhouse today, and by the early 2000s who would’ve even thought that South Carolina would be a global leader in the aerospace industry.”

The state has already seen significant investment in electric vehicle technology, especially battery development. Recent announcements include a half-billion-dollar investment to create 3,200 new jobs in Sumter County by e-VAC Magnetics, and an $810 million investment by AESC to expand its battery cell facility in Florence County. AESC’s total investment in the Florence plant now stands at $1.62 billion and 1,620 jobs.

And Scout Motors $2 billion investment in a plant in Blythewood, just north of Columbia, stands to put South Carolina on the cutting edge of a transformative automotive cluster as Scout revitalizes the original sport utility vehicle into what it believes will be an EV icon.

Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Scout, in his keynote address to the summit, noted that South Carolina and Blythewood had been chosen from among 74 potential sites in a very rigorous evaluation process. To put it simply, he said, “it’s a competitive state. South Carolina won.” 

But beyond the numbers, Keogh said a lot of states just put on a show. 

“They roll out the red carpet, they have some trumpets playing, maybe some bands show up and everyone's all happy. But the champagne goes away, and you have a headache.” Keogh said, “I haven't experienced that in this state at all. The launch team, the celebration team, the shake-your-hand team is exactly the same team that's in the trenches day in and day out.”

That is important, he said, because “when you build an automotive facility, this is not a two-week, two-year, three-year decision. This is a 60-, 70-, 80-year decision. You want to be in a place that you can trust, want to be in a place that you can call home, want to be in a place where you can get some things done. So, 100 percent, in my opinion, that's what this state is.”


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