South Carolina: Charting its Course for Industry Success
3 Nov, 2014By: Governor Nikki R. Haley
South Carolina has always charted its own course and possessed a remarkable spirit of innovation and individuality. The history books are filled with the Palmetto State’s firsts, including being home to the nation’s first public library, public museum and railroad junction. Also worth noting, innovator John Gary Anderson manufactured the nation's first automobile in Rock Hill, South Carolina, in 1916. While much has changed in South Carolina over the years, the belief in blending homegrown Southern hospitality with growth and development remains firmly planted in the state’s business climate, which many say is ‘Just right.’
In the last four years, South Carolina has emerged as a Southeast magnet for new jobs, investment and growth, consistently ranking as one of the top states for doing business in the nation. The state also has been noted as having one of the fastest-growing economies and one of the fastest-growing manufacturing sectors in the region and nation.
Big Wins for Team South Carolina
South Carolina’s economy continues to experience record results. Since 2011, the state has announced more than 57,000 jobs and funneled more than $13.8 billion in capital investments into the Palmetto State. Moreover, South Carolina has experienced unprecedented growth in its manufacturing sector, producing a more than 18 percent growth in output from 2010-2012. The state’s export totals have also shown a significant increase, reaching record levels in 2013, with $26.1 billion in goods sold to more than 200 countries worldwide.
However, in June of 2014, South Carolina celebrated one of its biggest wins in the economic development arena. In one day, the state announced three major deals along the I-77 corridor: the first North American manufacturing facility for Singapore-based, top-10 tire maker Giti Tire in Chester County, a healthcare company national headquarters for The Lash Group and financial services regional headquarters LPL Financial in York County. With a combined total of 7,100 jobs and $800 million in capital investment, these three projects represent the biggest single day of jobs announcements in the Palmetto State’s history.
In addition to these major wins, Team South Carolina has also experienced other record announcements in the first half of 2014. For instance, Japanese aerospace supplier Toray Industries’ billion-dollar decision to build its first consolidated carbon fiber plant in the United States in South Carolina is one of the largest initial capital investments in the state’s history. Also, the state is leading the nation in jobs recruited through foreign direct investment (for two years in a row) according to IBM, and the state's unemployment rate continues to decline.
South Carolina’s growth shows that hard work and business-friendly policies are paying off. The state’s economic development reputation and manufacturing prowess have earned the moniker “Beast of Southeast,” and this success is due largely to a proactive role in business development, the state’s top-notch workforce training and the South Carolina Department of Commerce’s aggressive recruiting strategy. These combined efforts have created highly favorable business conditions in South Carolina, and the world has taken notice. As a result, an impressive roster of household names across a spectrum of industries has put down roots in South Carolina, including world brands like Boeing, FUJIFILM, BMW, Bridgestone Americas, Google, Continental Tire, Daimler, Giti Tire, Honda, Michelin, TD Bank and Sonoco.
Looking at the resources South Carolina has to offer business prospects, it’s not hard to see why they choose to establish operations in the Palmetto State. By supporting businesses — both existing industry and new companies, large businesses and small — Team South Carolina has focused on making sure South Carolina is competitive globally and sustains a vital and thriving economy.
South Carolina is leading the nation’s manufacturing renaissance, building, assembling and creating quality products for markets all over the globe.
With the return to manufacturing, foreign investment has become a staple of South Carolina's economic success for several decades. Over the past three years, the state has seen tremendous growth in the number of foreign-based companies putting down roots and investing in the state.
Since 2011, global industry heavyweights including have either expanded or established new operations in the state. Long-time investment partners in Germany and Canada continue to choose South Carolina for business, but other players — China, Japan and India — are showing strength in foreign-direct investment by establishing corporate operations in the Palmetto State.
And with the state’s international projects pipeline up by 55 percent since 2011, compared to the previous four years, the state's global momentum shows no sign of slowing down.
Shipping In, Shipping Out
Since the days of the world’s first railroad junction being routed through the small town of Branchville, South Carolina, in 1833, the Palmetto State has been focused on creating unparalleled access to markets worldwide.
South Carolina is strategically located midway between New York City and Miami, giving the state an exceptional transportation network that makes reaching markets an easy task. The state’s central U.S. East Coast location, coupled with an integrated transportation system of highways, airports, seaports and railways, ensures any company can easily reach every one of its destinations, efficiently sending and receiving shipments around the world.
South Carolina has an excellent railroad transportation system. CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern and seven other affiliated and independent railroad companies combine to provide rail service in every metro area, operating almost 2,300 miles of rail that moves through each of South Carolina’s 46 counties.
One of South Carolina’s most attractive features for manufacturers and distribution and logistics operations is the Port of Charleston. The port is the eighth-largest container port in the U.S. and has been ranked first in customer satisfaction by industry publications. Additionally, the South Carolina Inland Port in Greer is extending the Port of Charleston's reach 212 miles inland and is positioned along the Interstate 85 corridor between Charlotte and Atlanta. From planes to trains to automobiles, South Carolina offers seamless connectivity. Each mode of transportation contributes to a vast network that can keep a business smoothly moving its products or raw materials.
Strong and Dependable Workforce
Another draw to South Carolina for businesses, particularly manufacturers, is the state’s fast-growing labor force, which has consistently outpaced national growth levels. South Carolina is a right-to-work state, supporting the rights of employees to decide whether or not to join or financially support a union.
South Carolina also offers highly skilled workers. Sixteen technical colleges located across the state help prepare workers for a wide range of jobs. One of South Carolina’s most successful initiatives is readySC™, which works with the state’s technical colleges to develop training curricula tailored to meet a company’s specific workforce requirements — at no cost to the company. Driven exclusively by a company’s needs and time frames, readySC™ has trained more than a quarter million workers for almost 2,000 companies since the program’s inception.