A group of prospective global business leaders had the opportunity to see some of Spartanburg County’s entrepreneurial and economic strengths on Wednesday.
Ten international Master of Business Administration (MBA) students from the Lauder Institute’s business program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School made a stop in Spartanburg as part of a four-day tour of South Carolina.
The purpose of the visit is to expose the students, who hail from countries like Brazil, Tanzania, Russia, Colombia and elsewhere, to a range of different industries, companies and experiences that will benefit their future academic pursuits.
It’s part of the institute’s partnership with the S.C. Research Authority. SCRA has hosted Wharton students before, but this was the first group to tour Spartanburg.
“It’s so much fun to hear (the students) taking an interest,” said Lindsey Kuhnhein, senior program assistant with SCRA’s affiliate SC Launch. “They ask so many questions; they’re so sharp.”
The group arrived in the Upstate on Monday.
They visited the Recleim plant in Graniteville on Tuesday and took a tour of BMW’s facilities near Greer, where they took a plant tour and enjoyed a “hot lap” around the track at the automaker’s Performance Center. They finished up with a meeting with John Gramling, CEO of Greenville-based Integro Earth Fuels.
On Wednesday, the group met with Steven Hahn, director of the Spartanburg Entrepreneurial Resources Network and the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s Entrepreneurial Services division.
Hahn led them on a tour of Spartanburg Community College’s Center for Business and Entrepreneurial Services in Duncan and then brought them downtown for a quick stop at the Iron Yard’s accelerator.
At lunch, the students were treated to a presentation by Steve Thies, CEO of Spartanburg-based fingerprint technology company Integrated Biometrics. Their last stop was a tour of Milliken & Co.’s Visitor Center and research facilities.
“This has been a very worthwhile experience,” said Wharton MBA candidate Bobby Viridi. “We have really enjoyed it so far. We’ve met a lot of great people and learned a lot about what Spartanburg has to offer.”
On Thursday, the group will make stops in Greenville at Clemson University’s Center for International Automotive Research, Clemson’s Biomedical Engineering Facility and the NEXT Innovation Center.
Hahn said the group’s interest in Spartanburg is affirmation of the entrepreneurial momentum that is building in the county, as well as a testament to the hard work of community leaders.
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