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Why Charleston Has Embraced Clusters


November 28, 2022
By Lynn Demos-Petrucci, Business Intelligence Analyst

Take a look at the top ten largest private sector employers in the Charleston Region. Eight of the top ten employers have something in common. Can you guess what it is?

If you guessed that eight of the 10 employers are in the Charleston region’s targeted economic clusters of aerospace, automotive, information technology, and life sciences, you would be correct!

You may now be wondering, “what even IS an economic cluster?” The reality is, if you’re living in Charleston, you’re living right in the middle of several economic clusters. Put simply, an economic cluster is a high concentration of businesses in an industry, including original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), suppliers, and researchers and developers. Because of the presence of large employer anchors like the ones seen on the Charleston region’s largest private sector employers list, clusters surrounding aerospace, automotive, information technology, and life sciences have emerged in our region.

These four economic clusters have been priorities for the Charleston region since 2010, and for good reason:

  • Clusters encourage rapid job growth: According to Emsi’s economic modeling data, the Charleston region has seen a 2.5% compound annual growth rate since 2010, compared to the national average of 1.3%.
  • Clusters provide job security for employees: Charleston’s four main clusters require similar skillsets, and employees with transferrable skills can find new opportunities within the region.
  • Businesses like a track record of success: Charleston’s consistent growth since 2010 – and its rebound from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic – shows Charleston is a great environment for their business to thrive.

The best news of all? These clusters are still growing, and they will continue to be targeted by our region’s business attraction efforts over the next five years.

Want to learn more about our region’s economic cluster approach? Email my colleagues to learn more.

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