David Barkley: Economic Development

David Barkley: By me is a manufacturing plant that once employed 2000 people; now the plant is locked up and the parking lot is empty and full of weeds. This situation is repeated in cities and small towns across South Carolina.

Since 1990, South Carolina has lost 100,000 manufacturing jobs; two-thirds of those have been in textiles and the apparel industries. I’m David Barkley, a professor of applied economics at Clemson University and co-director of the Regional Economic Development Research Laboratory. Clemson places a high priority on research and extension activities in economic development.

The goal of this research is to understand the economic environment and the alternatives that communities have in order to respond to this environment. There are three basic ways in which rural communities can try and rebuild their workforces. One, they can try and recruit industries from the outside; we refer to this as “buffalo hunting.” Two, they can use business retention and expansion programs to assist existing industries. Three, they can use innovation, small business development, entrepreneur promotion programs to try and grow their own businesses.

We have research and extension programs that analyze these three alternatives, try and determine which alternative best fits for which different types of communities, and then try and determine which policies communities should follow to promote that alternative.

Individuals interested in more information on the economic development program at Clemson University may check the university websites:


David Barkley