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30 Years of Economic Development in Charleston County


By Charleston County Economic Development

Charleston County, known for its vibrant and culturally rich region amidst a resilient economy and exquisite natural scenery, has experienced significant economic development and transformation. The Charleston County Economic Development (CCED) department has been instrumental in shaping Charleston’s global future since its inception in 1993. CCED has facilitated more than 39,000 jobs and more than $6.9 billion in capital investment over the past three decades through its dedication to recruiting new businesses, growing existing industries, and improving the overall Charleston business climate.

Did you know that Charleston County Council formed CCED as a direct response to the Naval Base closure? As a victim of BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure), the community lost 22,000 jobs. The response to combat economic loss was an all-out push to recruit new businesses here to make up for those jobs and add diversity to the economy, not dependent on one large employer. The region had made some decisions about leading economic sectors to target for the betterment of the community. Industries include automotive, aerospace, life sciences, information technology, and logistics. Thirty years later, the county has a diversified economy with world-class assets, blue-chip companies, and homegrown businesses.

CCED has made substantial industry announcements such as Boeing, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Cummins Turbo Technologies, and more, bringing advanced jobs and investments. But what does that mean in turns of economic advancement for the county?

Dr. Joseph C. Von Nessen, Research Economist at USC, Darla Moore School of Business analyzed our announcements over the 30 years into this economic impact study.

Economic Impact Report Highlights

  • CCED-facilitated activity supports an annual economic impact of $18.2 billion, representing 24.8% of Charleston County’s total GDP. This also corresponds to 72,018 jobs and $6 billion in labor income for residents.
  • Jobs generated by CCED-affiliated business activities represent a 43% wage premium over South Carolina jobs.
  • Employment in Charleston County grew at more than twice the rate of South Carolina – 45.2 percent vs. 20.1 percent between 2001 and 2022.
  • Manufacturing represents 32% of all CCED-supported companies.
  • Since 1993, the cumulative impact of all CCED-affiliated business activities totals over $179 billion.

Dr. Von Nessen’s presentation at our Annual Industry Appreciation Luncheon further emphasizes the importance of a diversified economy that protects against future economic recessions.

In addition to sharing the economic impact study results, we celebrated our existing industries that call Charleston County home. Special awards were given to these companies and individuals that made a difference in 2022.

  • Industry Impact Award, Small Company – Nice Commerce
  • Industry Impact Award, Medium Company – Isringhausen, Inc.
  • Industry Impact Award, Large Company – MSC USA
  • Community Impact Award – Cummins Turbo Technologies
  • Economic Development Ambassador – Mayor Keith Summey

The biggest secret was unveiled at the end of the program, when SC Department of Commerce Secretary Harry Lightsey presented on behalf of the state of South Carolina and Governor Henry McMaster, the Order of the Palmetto to CCED’s Executive Director, Steve Dykes. This is the state’s highest civilian honor and was granted due to his thirty years of dedicated service to the state, region, and Charleston County.

With its allies and partnerships, CCED has created an ideal environment for businesses to establish Charleston as their home. Steve Dykes states, “Economic development is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s truly a team sport.” The economic outlook for Charleston holds prosperity for the future. Here’s to the next thirty years for continued success in economic development in Charleston County!

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