As this year comes to a close, we’d like to take a look back at a significant year of economic growth, industry expansions, and notable rankings for our region. In case you weren’t able to catch all the great news from 2013, here’s a recap of the Charleston region’s ten most memorable moments:
- Soaring to New Heights with Boeing – It was another great year for Boeing in Charleston with the announcement that the recently established Charleston engineering design center team will help develop the newest version of the 777X passenger jet. Just two weeks later, the company broke ground on the new 737 MAX propulsion operation plant that is slated to begin production in May 2015.
- Launching the World’s Most Advanced Energy Testing Facility – Just last month, the Charleston region became home to the world’s most advanced drivetrain testing facility and the first-of-its-kind smart grid simulator. The SCE&G Energy Innovation Center, launched on the Clemson University Restoration Institute (CURI) campus, has brought Charleston to the forefront of global energy research and innovation.
- Taking the Auto Industry Wheel – Between Weber Automotive’s announcement to build a new manufacturing facility in North Charleston, Daimler Vans’ $4.6 million expansion and IFA Rotorion’s plans for a $25 million expansion, the Charleston automotive sector is booming.
- Our Economic Scorecard – The CRDA released its fourth annual Regional Economic Scorecard, which assesses the Charleston region’s economic progress. Along with strong GRP growth, results showed that the Charleston region outpaced tech centers such as Austin in percentage of employment in IT-sector share of jobs, and Charleston’s employment rate grew by 11.5 percent from 2005 to 2012—a growth rate 10 points higher than the national average and nearly triple that of comparative southeastern metros.
- Global Aerospace Manufacturing Conference Comes to Charleston – SpeedNews chose Charleston as the location of its first Aerospace Manufacturing Conference this past spring. As the fastest growing state for aerospace, South Carolina was the ideal location to host an international crowd of aerospace industry experts.
- Lowcountry Companies Got Inc’d – Charleston-based companies grew at a record speed this year: 15 of them landed on the Inc. 500/5000 list, which ranks America’s fastest growing companies based on revenue growth. SPARC, BoomTown, Omatic Software and UEC Electronics were just some of the lowcountry companies that climbed the ranks.
- A New, Award-Wining Data Resource – The Charleston Regional Competiveness Center launched an online data resource this year, www.charlestonregionaldata.com, providing free access and customization of key data, including up-to-date regional demographic, economic, industry and workforce statistics. The resource was recognized for “Outstanding Achievement and Excellence in Data Collection/ Dissemination Efforts” in May by the Council for Community and Economic Research.
- Digital Festival First – In April, Charleston hosted the Southeast’s first and only interactive festival celebrating the digital economy: DIG SOUTH. The inaugural event garnered 3,000+ attendees and featured over 130 high-level presentations by the likes of futurist and digital innovator Robert Tercek, Coca-Cola’s Global IT Director, the managing editor at CNN Digital plus reps from Facebook, Twitter, TechCrunch, Blackbaud, and ReverbNation.
- Fostering Creative Ideas – This November marked Charleston’s 20th Pecha Kucha night, an interactive showcase of ideas, passions and inspirations by local creative thinkers. The anniversary event drew 950+ attendees. Charleston’s creative community has an estimated economic impact of $3.2 billion annually and employs more 26,000, making it one of the top five industry clusters in the region.
- Third Time’s a Charm – For the third consecutive year in a row, Charleston ranked the No. 1 U.S. City by Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards. Charleston also earned the No. 1 spot on Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best Awards” this year for Top Cities in the U.S. and Canada. Both rankings cite Charleston’s culture and dining scenes as some of its “winning traits.”
It’s been an inspiring year here in Charleston. We’ve sparked economic growth, new innovations and creative strides that place us in a prime position for next year. And just this week, the University of South Carolina’s annual Economic Outlook Conference projected that our metro will pioneer major job growth in 2014.
Here’s to another year for regional growth and a positive one ahead.