Highlights from a Record Year in Economic Development

Landing Pad

January 24, 2017

2016 brought billions in investment, expanded logistics capabilities and workforce training, and game-changing tech advancements to Charleston | South Carolina | USA. In fact, last quarter was one of the most active in Charleston’s economic development history.

The metro region is proving to be an ideal location for foreign investment, attracting venture capital from Ireland’s Lucey Fund and launching programs like Landing Pad, which assists international companies entering the U.S. market for the first time. Charleston is also making strides in the life sciences sector – landing a headquarters, R&D, and manufacturing facility.

Here is a recap of some of the top headlines from 2016:

Mercedes-Benz Vans Expanded Operations – In July, the German auto manufacturer broke ground on a $500 million manufacturing plant in North Charleston. The new site will create about 1,300 jobs and bring another 400 jobs by attracting suppliers to the region. With its expanded Charleston operations, the company will serve a growing U.S. demand for its Sprinter vans.

Blackbaud Began Building New Headquarters – The Charleston-based nonprofit software firm has begun construction of its $154 million new headquarters on Daniel Island in Berkeley County. The 360,000-square-foot headquarters is the Charleston tech community’s largest project to date, and will add 300 jobs in the region. Complete with an edible garden, a bocce court, a putting green and a basketball court, the new campus will feature Silicon Valley-style amenities for its employees.

Life Science Company Moving Headquarters to Charleston Region – Thorne Research, Inc., a privately-held nutritional supplement manufacturing firm, announced its plans to construct a 240,000-square-foot manufacturing plant and headquarters in Berkeley County. Investing $35 million, Thorne will add 330 manufacturing and R&D jobs to the region. This project offers a significant boost to Charleston’s rapidly growing life sciences sector, and will be operational by mid-2018.

Charleston Continued to Attract and Train Talent – Thanks to new education centers, Charleston’s highly skilled workforce is growing. Clemson University’s newly-opened, $21.5 million, 70,000-square-foot Zucker Family Graduate Education Center will train engineers for aerospace and automotive jobs. Construction began on Trident Technical College’s S.C. Aeronautical Training Center, an $80 million, 224,000-square-foot facility that will support production of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and the automotive industry.

The region’s talent pool is also supported by the 35 newcomers a day that choose the Charleston metro for its unbeatable lifestyle, education opportunities, and job growth—one in every four jobs created in the state are in the Charleston region.

Manufacturers Invested Millions in Berkeley County – Greater Charleston attracted multi-million dollar investments from global manufacturing companies in 2016. Evonik, a global chemical manufacturer, will launch operations in Berkeley County, investing $120 million and creating 50 jobs. Viva Holdings, an international rubber and plastic recycling company, is building a $28 million, 177,000-square-foot facility in Berkeley County that will create 200 jobs in the first phase of development. stoba, a German auto parts manufacturer, established its first US facility in Berkeley County. The 43,000-square-foot production plant will create 61 new jobs and bring $7.7 million in capital investment.

Robert Bosch Grew its Dorchester County Operations – The German-based automotive parts maker will invest $175 million to expand in North Charleston, adding 150 jobs at its 1,700-worker plant. One of the region’s largest private-sector manufacturers, Bosch has invested more than $625 million in seven different expansions since opening its Charleston region plant in 1973.

The Port of Charleston Positioned to be Deepest on East Coast – Congress approved federal funding for the Charleston Harbor deepening project, which will give the Port of Charleston the deepest shipping channel on the East Coast at 52 feet. With the depth and capacity to serve the largest class of vessels, the Port of Charleston is attracting high-profile logistics companies like Lineage Logistics LLC, which officially opened a $150 million, 180,000-square-foot cold-storage warehouse.

Gigabit Internet Reached New Heights – AT&T and Home Telecom brought ultra-fast gigabit internet service to Charleston area. The providers will offer internet connection at a rate of 1,000 megabits per second to Charleston’s startups—speeds that are uncommon across the country. Combined with the gigabit internet already available in Summerville’s Nexton community, this new service will greatly benefit Charleston’s growing tech sector.

Irish Firm Invests in Charleston Software Company – Lucey Fund, a VC firm headquartered in Ireland, will invest up to $200,000 in Charleston-based software company Nannypod. Lucey Technology will also partner with the company, which supports nanny agencies and babysitting services. Lucey Technology is Ireland’s fastest-growing tech company.

South Carolina Launched Landing Pad to Spur Foreign Investment –To help global companies entering the U.S. market for the first time, the South Carolina Department of Commerce launched the Landing Pad program in partnership with the regional economic development alliances.

Golfbreaks.com became SC’s first Landing Pad company, when it announced its Mount Pleasant location in November. The program aims to drive foreign investment in South Carolina by simplifying processes like taxation, regulation, and real estate.

Developer Announced $1 Billion Investment in Laurel Island – North American Properties announced this year that it will invest $1 billion over the next 10 years to develop the 160-acre Laurel Island on Charleston’s Upper Peninsula. The Lorelei development offers access to the Port of Charleston and the region’s growing tech community. The upscale, waterfront community will feature offices, retail, apartments, a hotel, an entertainment venue, and more.

To stay up-to-date on announcements in the Charleston region, check out the Charleston Regional Development Alliance’s news page and social media channels.

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