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Biz Beat

Anderson Hosts International Network of Michelin Cities

Over 100 years ago, in Clermont-Ferrand, France, brothers Andre and Edouard Michelin founded a tire company that became globally revered and respected as producing the highest quality tires on the market. Today, Michelin is much more than a company that produces tires. They are international leaders in economic development, research, innovation, charitable contributions, and mobility. Today, the Michelin group has a presence on every continent, and in 26 countries. There are 20 Michelin manufacturing plants in the United States, and 3 of those facilities are in Anderson. Due to our strong Michelin presence, Anderson is one of the cities that forms the core of the International Network of Michelin Cities (INMC). 

The INMC was established in 2014 by Mayor Olivier Bianchi of Clermont-Ferrand, France. The model includes city-to-city and peer-to-peer interaction, access to global best practices, and a biennial, in-person conference. It encourages joint reflection and experimentation among local governments, universities, and corporations. The City of Anderson has been part of INMC since 2017 and in 2022 they were invited to submit a proposal to host the 2024 conference. 

Beth Batson, Public Information Director for City of Anderson, was instrumental in bringing the conference to Anderson. She serves as the City’s Ambassador to the INMC and was the Director of the 2024 conference. 

“Our proposal to host the 2024 conference was reviewed and voted on by member cities and we earned the honor after prevailing in a runoff with a city in Italy,” says Batson. 

Planning for the conference began in the spring of 2022 with key partners like Tri-County Technical College, Clemson University, Anderson University, and Anderson County. Funding was secured through the Department of Commerce. Says Batson,

“Funding was key to allowing us to produce a world-class event to highlight Anderson, the Upstate, and SC to an international audience. It was evidence that the State of SC saw the value of the INMC as an economic development tool and recognition of the importance of supporting cities as economic engines.” 

After 2 years of planning, the City of Anderson hosted visitors from around the world during the week of April 15-19 as the first American city to host the conference. 

The conference included 140 people from 18 INMC member cities from France, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Italy, UK, Ukraine, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, and the US. The theme of the Anderson conference was “Drivers of Economic Development.” International experts engaged the participants in educational experiences exploring new technologies and methodologies related to the core goals of the INMC. Mayors and administrators from around the world attended Thematic Labs on the topics of:

  • Mobility for All
  • Renewable Energy and Sustainability
  • Start-Ups and Incubators
  • Economic Equity
  • Arts and Culture
  • Sports and Health

“The significance of the event and the prominence of the audience allowed us to attract top-level speakers and entertainment throughout,” says Batson. “We also hosted the first INMC International Start-Up Competition. Tech and bio-medical start-ups from 15 cities around the world gave live presentations to an international jury.” 

Students from 6 international colleges participated in the conference for the first time and the first ever “Corridor of Incubators” was signed into agreement between Magog, Quebec, Clermont-Ferrand, France, and Braga Portugal. 

“Our team was mindful to create a robust schedule of cultural events open to the public during the week, including a performance by Orchestra d’Auvergne of Clermont-Ferrand, a lecture and exhibition by artist Brian Rutenberg, an International Short Film Festival presentation, and a thematic lab on Economic Equity,” says Batson. 

City of Anderson staff and more than 100 community volunteers and professionals worked for nearly 2 years to plan and produce this conference. Many times during the week attendees called it, “the best ever,” and they continued to be amazed and delighted with each event and awed by the depth of content the conference offered. After the conference, Batson received an email message from an attendee from Clermont-Ferrand, France that stated,

“The seamless logistics and thoughtful arrangements truly enhanced the overall experience we had. This is exactly what Southern hospitality means to me!”

Batson is proud of the work the City of Anderson, and everyone involved in the conference did to make this a huge success and the positive impact it had is clear. Says Batson,

“The economic benefits are self-evident. The cultural impact will reverberate here and beyond for a long time.” 

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