Supportive Environment for Innovation
The Charleston region is home to numerous biomedical companies employing more than 1600 workers locally. Many of these companies combine manufacturing and distribution elements within their operations. A 2007 Battelle report identified Charleston as one of six emerging medium-sized U.S. regions for the medical device industry
Key focus areas:
- Medical equipment (hospital and laboratory)
- Medical devices and diagnostics
- Health IT and telemedicine
- Clinical trials and drug/vaccine research
Located in the heart of downtown Charleston, the region's largest biomedical employer and asset is the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)
which employs nearly 11,000 workers and conducts more than $243 million
in research annually. Approximately 50 percent of this funding is derived from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Significant Commercialization Support
The South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA)
is a non-profit contract R&D organization established to grow South Carolina's knowledge economy. In partnership with the state's three research universities, SCRA has established a network of Innovation Centers and Launch Zones to assist start-up and existing businesses with commercializing new technologies. Through these Innovation Centers, qualifying companies are eligible for equity financing of up to $200,000.
The Health and Bioscience center at SCRA includes the Buy Accessible Program, the Copper Air Quality Program, the
Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel and the Copper Touch Surfaces Program.
SCRA/MUSC Innovation Center
is a state-of-the-art research facility and business incubator with lab spaces designed to support medical and bioscience research. It includes 28,400 square feet of space and 11 wet laboratories. Developed through a partnership with SCRA, the City of Charleston and MUSC, it continues to attract companies and research teams to the region and currently serves as home for eight biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.
, an SCRA
collaboration, was created to facilitate applied research, product development and commercialization programs, and to strengthen South Carolina's Knowledge Economy by creating high wage-earning jobs. SC Launch offers qualifying companies commercialization support, guidance and seed funding, and was recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of the 2010 Top Five Entrepreneurial Support Programs in the U.S.
Growing, Technically-Skilled Workforce
Greater Charleston is ranked among the Top 10 fastest growing U.S. metros for its technical and scientific workforce, including strong growth in related biomedical occupations, such as biochemists, microbiologists, chemists, lab technicians and computer engineers. (Source: Avalanche Consulting, Inc.)
Along with being a Top 10 fastest growing U.S. metro for knowledge workers, Charleston was cited by Forbes Magazine in 2009 as one of the "Best Cities in the U.S. for Technology Jobs"
Local colleges and universities offer an array of relevant degree programs, such as the College of Charleston's interdisciplinary program in discovery informatics
, the first undergraduate program of its kind in the country. In September 2011, The Wall Street Journal named the Charleston region as the #1 U.S. Metro for Growth in College Degrees
over the past 10 years.
Integrated, Global Infrastructure
Charleston offers dual rail access, linkage to multiple Interstates via I-26, and a convenient international airport
with direct domestic flights to major cities and quick connections to nearby international hubs.
Need a private airport? The region boasts four executive airports with runways over 5000' and approximate commute times of 15 minutes or less.
The Port of Charleston
is a key asset, particularly for biomedical companies seeking to import and assemble equipment/devices prior to shipping them to customers in the U.S.
The Port of Charleston is the most efficient and eighth-busiest U.S. seaport, with five terminals close to the open sea. This deepwater Port expertly handles container (including fully-loaded Post-Panamax vessels), breakbulk, project and heavy lift cargoes up to 500 tons with on-dock rail, excellent oversize clearances inland, and ample open or covered storage.
Reliable, Low Cost Energy
South Carolina's industrial electricity averages 20 - 25% below the U.S. average. The Charleston region is served by two generating electric utilities (Santee Cooper
) with a combined capacity of 10,275 megawatts, plus two electric cooperatives (Berkeley Electric
and Edisto Electric
Greater Charleston is also part of the South Carolina transmission grid, which is served by four generating utilities with a combined capacity of 19,721 megawatts. For natural gas transmission and distribution, the region is served by Carolina Gas Transmission Corporation, a subsidiary of SCANA Corporation.
South Carolina Incentivizes Biomedical Growth
More Information on Taxes and Incentives
South Carolina offers several programs designed to incentivize the location and expansion of biomedical companies and venture investment with the state and the Charleston region, including:
- An eligibility category for relevant facilities engaged in manufacturing, processing and R&D (NAICS codes 3254 and 334516)
- An enhanced Jobs Development Credit, which allows approved bioscience facilities to capture cash rebates for eligible expenditures
- The ability to negotiate the apportionment formula used to calculate corporate income tax liability
- Equipment depreciations at an accelerated rate of 20%, instead of the previous 11%
South Carolina Supports Business
S.C. ranked as one of the Top Five most business-friendly states for the past six years by the Pollina Corporation and as "one of the best places to do business" by a survey of site selection consultants conducted by DCI.
- One of the lowest corporate income taxes in the Southeastern U.S. at 4.6% and no state property or local income tax
- Very favorable regulatory climate
As a right-to-work state
, South Carolina's workforce has one of the lowest unionization rates and lowest work-stoppage rates in the nation.
- In 2012, just 1.9% of workers in the Charleston metro area were members of an organized union, well below the national average of 11.3%
- The manufacturing unionization rate in the Charleston region is 5.8%
Competitive wage structure
The chart below provides wages typically associated with the biosciences sector, or visit our data center
to access a more comprehensive list of average wages by occupation
(BLS data). For a local wage & benefit survey - broken down by industry sector and company size - contact Hank Taylor
, V.P. Global Business Development at the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, at 843.760.4526 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Biomedical Cluster, Selected Occupations, Charleston S.C. MSA
||2010 Average Hourly Wage
||2010 Median Hourly Wage
||Software Developers, Applications
||Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists
||Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists
||Chemical Equipment Operators and Tenders
||Separating, Filtering, Clarifying, Precipitating, and Still Machine Setters, Operators and Tenders
||Mixing and Blending Machine Setters, Operators and Tenders
||Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers and Weighers
|Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9/2011