The first College of Charleston German-American Business Summit couldn’t have come at a more timely moment. With $4.1 billion dollars of additional investment between 2011-2015, German industries are making a tremendous impact on the state of South Carolina and are now responsible for 27,000 jobs throughout the state. Up to 1,300 of those new jobs will come directly from the plant expansion at Mercedes-Benz Vans in North Charleston, which just broke ground on its facility expansion in late July 2016. The summit, from noon to 5 p.m. on Feb. 2, 2017, in the College’s Stern Center Ballroom, is organized by the College of Charleston’s German Program, the Career Center, the School of Business, and the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs, in partnership with the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern United States. This gathering will feature:
  • A job and internship expo for College of Charleston students with German companies, including Mercedes-Benz Vans LLC, BMW, Bosch, IFA Rotorion, KION, Hubner, Continental Tire, Stoebich Fire Protection, Zeltwanger LP and Kuehne + Nagel.
  • Opening remarks from Dr. Robin Mishra, Minister-Counselor from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Keynote address from Sam Moses of Parker Poe on “Building Bridges between Higher Education and German Industry in South Carolina”
  • Panel discussion on workforce needs with representatives from Mercedes-Benz Vans, LLC, Bosch, BMW, IFA Rotorion and the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S.
The summit will conclude with a networking reception for attendees from the business community. “There are already several dynamic models for public-private partnerships with German industry in South Carolina,” says Moses, who represents foreign companies and manufacturing operations. “With its exceptional German program, and high-ranking globally-oriented School of Business, and strong liberal arts mission, the College of Charleston is the ideal place for a further expansion of those productive relationships.” One of the panel participants, Mercedes-Benz Vans, LLC CEO Michael Balke, is excited about the potential outcomes of the panel discussion and the conference. “For Mercedes-Benz Vans, LLC, our workforce is the main success factor of our plant expansion,” says Balke. “Together with other international manufacturers, we share the challenge of successfully training the workforce of the future.” The coming summit is attracting regional and national interest and is sponsored by Mercedes-Benz Vans, LLC, IFA Rotorion, Continental Tire, Bosch LLC, KION North America, Stöbich Fire Protection, Parker Poe, Zeltwanger LP,  Kuehne + Nagel, CBRE Advisory & Tenant Transaction Services,  Macmillan / Pazdan / Smith Architecture, GEL Engineering, and MAU Workforce Solutions. Morgan Koerner, chair of German and Russian Studies at the College, is elated about the spotlight this event is putting on the massive presence of German industry in South Carolina. “It’s been a secret for far too long here in the Lowcountry that proficiency in German and knowledge of German culture are an extremely lucrative asset for those pursuing careers, and upward mobility, with industry in the state and globally,” Koerner says. The summit was originally scheduled for October 6, 2016, but had to be rescheduled when Hurricane Mathew bore down on the South Carolina coast. Last year, host Mike Switzer previewed the summit on ETV Radio’s South Carolina Business Review program.