In recent years, Team South Carolina has risen as a star player in the business leagues. Known as one of the top states to do business and ranked number one for jobs linked to foreign investment per capita, South Carolina’s world-class workforce has proven, time and time again, that it is capable of making any product, and making it well.
In less than a decade, South Carolina has caused a sea-change in business development, leveled the economic playing field and emerged as a leader in manufacturing. So, what is it about South Carolina that is attracting companies from all over the globe to its borders? The answer is simple. Team South Carolina has done its homework, developed a business-focused economic development strategy and nurtured its talent — resulting in a solid reputation as being ‘just right’ for business.
South Carolina: An Ideal Pro-Business Location
Companies want to locate where they can be successful; and for any business, a critical component toward guaranteeing future prosperity is being able to efficiently connect to, both, marketplaces around the world and to a deep pool of talented workers. Thanks to South Carolina’s robust infrastructure network – featuring North America’s most productive port, more than 2,300 miles of rail lines and five major interstate highways – the Palmetto State offers exceptional global connectivity.
Thanks, in part, to these tremendous infrastructure assets, the Palmetto State has experienced unprecedented business recruitment success in recent years. Big announcements from internationally-known companies, such as Boeing, GE, Giti Tire, LPL Financial Holdings and Toray, have brought record levels of investment and job creation to the state. In 2014, South Carolina recruited more than $5 billion in capital investment for the second year in a row and for the third time in four years, representing the creation of more than 19,000 jobs by new and expanding businesses. And, as a result, South Carolina’s unemployment rate continues to decline — falling to 5.7 percent in September 2015, which was its lowest level since 2008. Meanwhile, the Palmetto State’s total employment has increased for more than 70 consecutive months.
South Carolina’s roster of world-class companies continued to grow in 2015 when Mercedes-Benz Vans announced the $500 million expansion of its South Carolina facility, creating 1,300 new jobs. Volvo Cars also announced its first American manufacturing facility, representing a $500 million investment and up to 4,000 new jobs.
Couple the business resources South Carolina offers, along with the state’s recent economic momentum, and it’s not hard to see why companies from all over the globe are choosing to establish or grow operations in the Palmetto State.
South Carolina: Trained & Skilled Workforce
As some of the world’s most recognized companies continue to invest in South Carolina, opening facilities and expanding operations in all corners of the state, it’s clear that it is South Carolina’s exceptional workforce that has fueled a lot of this economic growth. With a reputation for making first-class products, the people of South Carolina are hard-working, loyal and dependable.
Recognizing the importance of providing industry with a large pool of well-trained workers, South Carolina has many nationally-recognized workforce initiatives. Through the S.C. Technical College System, the Palmetto State offers readySC™, a world-renowned job-training program, which has trained more than 280,000 individuals for qualifying companies since its inception in 1961.
Apprenticeship Carolina™, another workforce program administered by the S.C. Technical College System, works to ensure that all employers in the state have access to the information and technical assistance they need to create apprenticeship programs. Since its launch in 2007, the number of apprenticeship programs has increased seven-fold, from 90 to 640 registered programs. Meanwhile, nearly 14,000 total apprentices have been served overall, up from a mere 777 in 2007. And, last year, Apprenticeship Carolina was recognized as the fastest-growing, most innovative program in the nation, averaging more than 120 new apprentices per month.
With more than 244,000 students enrolled in one of South Carolina’s higher education institutions, it’s clear that young individuals across the state are eager to enter the workforce. South Carolina’s ongoing effort to prepare that young workforce for the jobs of tomorrow is just one example of the state’s commitment toward cultivating a genuine, pro-business environment.
South Carolina: Manufacturing on a Roll
That pro-business environment has allowed South Carolina to build a tremendous reputation around the globe and has helped turn the state into a true manufacturing powerhouse – outpacing neighboring states in manufacturing gross domestic product.
Photo Caption: (Workers) readySC™ works with the state’s technical colleges to develop training curriculum, tailored to meet a company’s specific workforce requirements, at no cost to the company.
South Carolina’s manufacturing renaissance can be traced back to 1994, when the first Palmetto State-made BMW rolled off the assembly line at the company’s Greer, S.C. plant. Since then, South Carolina has turned into a global leader in the automotive industry and today is home to more than 250 automotive-related companies and suppliers. With an automotive sector that employs more 58,000 workers, South Carolina is the number one producer and exporter of tires in the nation – which is not surprising considering that four of the top ten tire companies in the world operate facilities in South Carolina.
In 2011, Bridgestone Americas Inc.’s $1.2 billion plant expansion in Aiken County was the largest single initial capital investment in the state’s history. And, Volvo Cars’ 2015 announcement built on that remarkable momentum and represented the third original equipment manufacturer to establish operations in South Carolina.
Adding to the state’s prowess in advanced manufacturing is South Carolina’s burgeoning aerospace cluster. In 2009, another world-renowned business chose to call South Carolina home, when The Boeing Company selected North Charleston for its final assembly and delivery facility. Since then, the industry has reached unprecedented heights and now accounts for more than 100,000 jobs in the state.
Building on its reputation as a leader in the global manufacturing industry, South Carolina continues to develop strong relationships with world-class companies that are choosing to, not only locate in the state, but also put down roots and expand within its borders, including companies like DRÄXLMAIER Group in Abbeville County and Haier America in Kershaw County.
Photo Caption: (Ground breaking) In May 2015, Volvo Cars selected the Palmetto State to establish its first manufacturing facility in the Western Hemisphere. With a $500 million investment creating up to 4,000 jobs, this announcement was a testament to what companies around the world are noticing — that South Carolina is ‘just right’ for business.
In addition to bringing tens of thousands of new jobs to South Carolina, the state’s growing roster of global manufacturers has also helped to bolster the state’s export activity. In fact, in 2014, for the fifth consecutive year, South Carolina set a record for total export sales – $29.7 billion. Representing a 13 percent increase over the 2013 total, the Palmetto State’s recent export growth, as well as the continued surge of its manufacturing industry, has made South Carolina one of the hot spots for economic development.
(Port) Known as the nation’s most productive port, the Port of Charleston connects the Palmetto State with more than 150 countries around the world.
South Carolina: Strong Reputation
While it may appear that South Carolina’s global success happened overnight, those on the economic development frontlines know this growth has been hard-fought, crafted by the skilled and talented hands of the state’s workforce and created by the commitment to developing a business-friendly climate. More than just a leader in advanced manufacturing, South Carolina’s diverse economy continues to attract companies from all corners of the globe, further boosting the state’s reputation of being ‘just right.’
For more information about all that South Carolina has to offer businesses, please visit www.sccommerce.com.
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