December 30, 2020
2020: Charleston’s Economic Year-in-Review
2020 started out strong with an active project pipeline and high hopes for the year ahead. Then, as the historic COVID-19 pandemic hit the Charleston region, CRDA quickly realized this is a year unlike any other, as seemingly overnight it altered economic development and how we all conduct business.
Years of economic momentum, thoughtful leadership, and a focus on industry diversification have helped our three-county region weather this global crisis and except for hospitality, our industry sectors returned in August to pre-COVID employment levels.
Charleston ranks among the nation’s fastest-growing metros for job creation, forecasted to add 28,000 new jobs in the next five years. Here is more good news to highlight from the Charleston region this year:
- Charleston’s business, government, and healthcare leaders came together as One Region Ready to implement a safe “return to business” strategy with industry-specific guidelines. Life science companies and medical institutions took the lead in developing testing and doing their part to keep the region safe.
- Charleston’s life science industry responded to the global need and grew accordingly. Vigilent Labs is investing $104.6 million to build a state-of-the-art COVID-19 test manufacturing facility and create 400 new jobs in Charleston County. Vikor Scientific expanded its COVID-19 testing kit facility, adding to its growing roster of 400+ employees, and Summerville’s Horizon Scientific ramped up production of its medical-grade freezers critical to storing the COVID vaccines. Nutraceutical innovator, Thorne, headquartered in Berkeley County, continued to scale its operation.
- A&R Logistics, North America’s leading supply chain services company to the chemical industry, opened its world-class export facility in Moncks Corner. Developed in close cooperation with the South Carolina Ports Authority, the building was designed to fully capitalize on Charleston’s logistics capabilities.
- With the rise of remote work during the pandemic, Charleston experienced an influx of talent as workers leave large, urban metros seeking a strategic location for career growth in communities with a more affordable lifestyle and lots of green space.
- CRDA welcomed industrial laser supplier, PRC Laser; Land Rover Defender customizer, Arkonik; and high-end dinnerware and home décor distributor, Juliska to the three-county region. These announcements total over $3 million in investments and are expected to create 130+ jobs.
- Walmart announced plans to build a $220 million distribution center in Dorchester County. A noted “vote of confidence” in SC Ports, the investment will bring more than 1,000 new jobs to the region.
- Although Charleston International Airport has seen a dip in air travelers this year, airlines are still adding new flights from CHS, including a new nonstop route to Los Angeles and expanded service to Seattle, Washington DC, and multiple Florida cities. And the CHS Airport has invested in a new parking garage for increased capacity.
- Charleston continues to receive national attention for being friendly, beautiful, and one of the best cities in America for jobs. And, not to brag, but we’ve been ranked as “the best” for a full decade.
These news articles represent just a handful of the many developments and noteworthy events that occurred in Charleston in the past year. To keep up with all of the news in the Charleston region, keep an eye on CRDA’s news page and social channels. As we move into 2021, we have plenty of reasons to believe that Charleston | SC will continue to see recovery and growth. After all, Charleston | SC is a great place to do business.
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