GREER — No matter what goes on or is said in politics, the country, particularly in South Carolina’s Upstate, is already global, Reid Lohr, senior managing director of EDI Group, said at BMW Zentrum on Thursday.
The German automaker in Greer played host to a forum on global fluency, the first of four forums Ten at the Top will hold this year.
The World Affairs Council Upstate partnered with Ten at the Top to host the forum.
In the region, Ten at the Top Executive Director Dean Hybl said there are 34 countries that represent more than 462 foreign-owned companies that play a critical role in the area’s climate.
That number is likely to grow with this week’s official announcement that Canadian-based company Caristrap International, which manufacturers strapping systems, plans to locate its corporate headquarters in Greenville County.
The agreement between the county and the company was already announced earlier this month at a County Council meeting.
The move is expected to bring in $5.5 million of capital investment and create 100 jobs at an existing 32,000-square-foot facility at Suite 300 of 45 Brookfield Oaks Drive in Mauldin, according to a press release.
Caristrap Operations Director Tony Bianco said the company was very appreciative of the support received from the state, county and City of Mauldin officials.
“South Carolina continues to elevate itself as a global industrial leader, and the fact that Caristrap is putting their new headquarters in Greenville is further testament to that,” Gov. Henry McMaster said in a statement.
Brad Gosche, senior director of the Global Fluency Institute, said at BMW Zentrum that always working on global fluency is vital to dealing with companies around the world and business leaders who might visit the U.S.
He used examples like giving a Chinese counterpart a clock as a gift, which symbolizes the “end of time,” or death, or taking a business card handed by a Japanese businessman and stuffing it into your back pocket, which can be interpreted as a rude gesture.
The Institute, Gosche said, has served more than 500 clients in how to become globally fluent. Clients have included companies, educators, and now has expanded to first responders and the medical field.
But, he said, a person or business should never look to become completely fluent, describing it as a “journey.”
A panel discussion led by Patrick Terrien, president and CEO of the Columbus Council on World Affairs, touched on various topics that included how becoming globally fluent plays out economically.
Susan Simmons, director of career management at Michelin, said fluency played a large role when the tire company opened a new facility in India.
Michelin North America is headquartered in Greenville, and has plants throughout the Upstate.
Simmons said the company brought dozens of Indian workers to its Spartanburg plant to learn alongside workers already there.
That process, she said, boosted the company’s market in India, allowing that plant to hire thousands of workers. She said the same will likely be done when the company’s Mexico facility starts in the next few years.
Herrin Hood, global product line manager at Spartanburg-based Milliken, said fluency also plays a role in hiring diverse talent, which in turn creates broader innovation.
Lohr, who now lives in the region, said he doesn’t understand the negative connotations that many stick to South Carolina.
Especially in the Upstate, he said, the area is extensively diverse, among race, religion and clientele.