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Wilson Statement: Hearing on "Reviving Our Economy: The Role of Higher Education in Job Growth and Development"
As prepared for delivery.

Thank you all for attending this important hearing on promoting the creation of jobs and the role higher education and job growth initiatives will play in doing so. I appreciate your efforts in conducting this hearing and am very happy it is being held in our home state of South Carolina. I would also like to thank Dr. James Barker, President of Clemson University, for hosting us here at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR).

I know firsthand of the excellence of leadership at Clemson with President Jim Barker and Board Chairman David Wilkins in that our youngest son, Hunter Wilson, received a degree in May at Clemson in Industrial Engineering.

Spread across 250 acres, the CU-ICAR center is located in a state of the art $45 million facility here in Greenville. It is a research oriented campus that combines the best of the public and private sectors. It provides an opportunity for today’s innovators to develop tools for the automotive needs of tomorrow. It has fast become a hub for the nation’s automotive industry as it is a main area to design, test, and manufacture vehicles available to the industry.  It is very appropriate for it to be located in this community since Greenville County has one of the strongest concentrations of engineers per capita in the country and is now known nationally as one of the main engineering hubs in the Southeast.

Anchored by the Carroll Campbell graduate engineering center, CU-ICAR offers both a masters and Ph. D program in Automotive Engineering. In addition, the research center is co-anchored by the BMW information technology research center and the Timkens research center. These partnerships with local companies provides a great sense of cross industry collaboration. Furthermore, companies such as Michelin sponsor many events at the center that promote innovation in the automotive industry.

I am very happy to see both BMW and Michelin involved with Clemson at the CU-ICAR center. Both companies were brought to the state by previous governors of South Carolina. The Late Governor Carroll Campbell was instrumental in recruiting BMW to the upcountry with late Roger Milliken. Since opening its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Greer, South Carolina, BMW has shipped over one million cars made in the Palmetto state to the rest of the world. Thousands of jobs were created by BMW and its suppliers across South Carolina building world class vehicles including all X5, X6, Z3, and Z4 models in the world with the new addition of X3.  This year, the plant will produce more than 260,000 vehicles for over 130 markets around the world. Sales of the vehicles produced at the plant have met with continued high demand. In October, the plant will begin operating on a six-day production schedule to meet this global demand. This will also create new jobs for production associates.

In addition, Governor Campbell’s predecessor, Dr. Jim Edwards played a vital role in recruiting the Michelin Tire Corporation, North American headquarters and manufacturing facilities to South Carolina. Since 1979, Michelin has invested over $1 billion in its multiple South Carolina plants. Recently, Michelin announced it will be expanding operations with an additional $200 million commitment for a plan in Lexington that will add 270 new jobs. With the North American headquarters in Greenville, there are now seven manufacturing plants across the state.

As you can see, CU-ICAR has become a premiere site of our nation’s automotive expertise. It provides students with a challenging environment that incorporates cutting edge technology and fosters a sense of innovation and collaboration.

I look forward to hearing what you all have to say on how we can move forward to focus on creating a climate that promotes innovation and job growth.


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