South Carolina: Business Friendly, Hospitable, Well-Trained

26 Jun, 2018

Education and a stable well trained workforce are the foundation upon which the Palmetto State builds its prosperous economy. With 180,000 students enrolled in higher education plus a team of twelve regional work advisors who connect business and education communities, South Carolina’s future will be one of high tech and advanced manufacturing growth on many levels.

The state also has an excellent workforce training program called readySC which helps provide well trained employees to a variety of companies who invest in South Carolina.

Long known as a right to work state with low unionization and low tax structures, the atmosphere is business friendly and helps companies successfully compete nationally and internationally. Companies with successful operations in South Carolina include BMW, Blackbaud, GKN Aerospace and Rite Aid.

In terms of transportation and infrastructure, the state is blessed with one of the busiest container ports along the eastern seaboard, several airports, an expansive rail system and major interstates like I-26, I-95, I-85 and I-20.

South Carolina has more than 1.5 million high-speed lines connecting homes and businesses to the internet. In fact, all of South Carolina has access to high-speed internet lines in service. The state’s communications network is designed and engineered to meet industry needs for wireless, high-speed internet access and voice service.

Quality of life is also extremely important to South Carolinians and evidently many others, because tourism is an 18 billion dollar industry here with the Appalachians, numerous golf courses, lakes and beautiful coastline.

Oconee County

Oconee County, a vibrant county of nearly 77,000 residents, is the “geography of opportunity” in Upstate South Carolina. Positioned in the northwestern corner of the state, this hot spot for business investment is located along the Interstate 85 corridor between Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Advanced manufacturing is the backbone of the Oconee County economy, from handicraft to high tech, this manufacturing sector is flourishing. Manufacturing is the county’s largest employment sector, with around 25 percent of the local workforce employed by one of the 60 industries that call Oconee home. The various industries are creating products as diverse as plastic wrap for food producers and engine valves for automotive suppliers.

Since 2012, Oconee has announced over 1,465 manufacturing-related jobs and $432.3 million of invested capital spread across 32 project wins. Along with this, the county has developed four industrial parks that offer ready sites to future industries. Oconee County is also a certified “Work Ready Community” through ACT, ranking 6th in the nation for total National Career Readiness Certificates.

While Oconee County is the right place to work and invest, it is also the right place to live and play. The county has an unmatched quality of life with, outdoor recreation, low housing prices and one of the lowest tax structures in South Carolina. The terrain in Oconee County is so special that it drew the attention of National Geographic magazine who named the Jocasse Gorges one of the “World’s Last Great Places,” with only one other location in the United States earning the distinction.

The bottom line is that Oconee County, South Carolina, is the right place to live, work, play and invest. With a prime location, a manufacturing history and a viable workforce, Oconee wants you to know that Oconee County is open for business. To learn more about the “geography of opportunity,” please visit

South Carolina I-77Alliance

The South Carolina I-77 Alliance is a non-profit economic development organization that seeks to position and market Chester, Fairfield, Richland, and York Counties as world-class business locations to attract investment, jobs, entrepreneurs and talent along the I-77 corridor of South Carolina. With over 14 years of experience in economic development and business attraction, Christopher Finn serves as the director of research & marketing. BXJ asked Christopher about the region.

Briefly give us an overview of companies now in the I-77 Alliance region?

The I-77 region represents a diverse economy. York County, our most northern, is the Charlotte metro area’s 2nd largest county and one of fastest growing nationally for both population and jobs. It’s proximity to Charlotte is appealing to corporate headquarter projects and also manufacturing operations. Companies such as the Lash Group, LPL Financial, and Diversey, are office anchors for mixed use development projects spurred by their pledge to create thousands of new jobs. Black and Decker recently announced a 500-worker expansion of their existing facility to meet consumer demand for DEWALT cordless power tools.

Chester County and Fairfield counties are both powerhouses for industrial project attraction. Chester’s proximity to Charlotte coupled with aggressive zoning and site preparation has resulted in significant investment. Giti Tire USA is nearly complete with their half a billion dollar facility that will manufacture the Walmart brand Dextero Tire with a 1,700 person workforce.

Fairfield County benefits from having an energy production facility at the VC Summer Nuclear Plant representing a large portion of their high-skilled and high-paying jobs. Their proximity to Columbia, SC has lead to investments from industrial equipment manufacturer BOMAG and Walmart brand TV maker, Element Electronics.

Lastly, our southern-most county Richland, is home to South Carolina’s capital, Columbia, the University of South Carolina’s largest campus, and Fort Jackson, the largest and most active Initial Entry Training Center in the U.S. Army. This cluster boosts government and education sectors of the economy but Richland County also has a sizable insurance and back office cluster with companies such as Aflac, AT&T, and BlueCross BlueShield of SC employing thousands.

Are you targeting certain industries for the future?

Advanced materials (Plastics, polymers, chemicals, composites, alloys); Aerospace part manufacturing; automotive part manufacturing; and business & financial services.

Tell us about your quality of life?

New residents are drawn in by the mix of big-city conveniences and small-town charm, natural beauty, welcoming neighbors and an endless array of amenities and conveniences.

Describe the makeup of your workforce?

Our 2017 regional workforce study determined the workers living in our four-county region are younger and more educated than both the SC and US averages. In addition to our residents, our region is served by two intricately linked multi-county labor sheds: one for the two northernmost and one for the two southernmost counties.

What type of recreational activities are there in or around the area?

Recreational activities are virtually endless in our region. Lake Wylie and Lake Wateree each offer unique fishing and watercraft experiences and they are connected by the dammed Catawba River providing tubing and kayaking access. York County is home to the 2,000 acre Anne Close Springs greenway nature preserve with a 40-mile trail system. Chester and Fairfield Counties have several state parks and historic locations with insight into the region’s past. Lastly, Richland County’s southern border is defined by the Congaree River that abuts Congaree National Park.

What else should we know about I-77 Alliance?

We are one of the premier regions in one of the country’s premier states for economic development.

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