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Tracking economic progress in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties


Economic 2013 scorecard Produced for the community by: Charleston Regional Development Alliance Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce Research and analysis by: Lowcountry Graduate Center Riley Center for Livable Communities at the College of Charleston Center for Business Research

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Building regional prosperity

Key Takeaways

The 2013 Regional Economic Scorecard provides our region’s business, governmental,

Charleston’s regional economy is performing well overall, while also undergoing a

community and academic leaders with unbiased data to help focus a collective effort to

significant transformation into a more diversified, knowledge-based economy. Our

address our challenges and maintain positive momentum.

three-county region has the ingredients and the potential to become a world-class metro

As you’ll see in this year’s report, our three-county region’s economy is performing better than the state and the U.S. overall, and continues to strengthen since the launch of the Opportunity Next strategy in April 2011. Employment in the region has grown two times faster than the U.S. since 2010. All of the

like Raleigh or Austin, if we adequately tackle our challenges – infrastructure, talent development and sustainable growth.

critical issues for economic success:

region’s jobs lost in 2009 have been recovered. Unemployment is lower than the national average and dropping at a faster pace. And Manufacturing, Professional Services, and Financial Activities are the region’s fastest growing industry sectors. Correlated with the region’s healthy economy, attractive lifestyle, and international accolades,









regional population growth since 2010 has been three times the national average, with 74% of

Transform the region’s infrastructure into a world-class multimodal system

that growth due to in-migration. In fact, Charleston’s regional population is projected to reach 1 million residents within the next 15 years. This growth will escalate tough challenges on regional transportation infrastructure, housing affordability, and the skilled human capital needed to fill higher wage industry sectors such as Aerospace and Information Technology.

Invest in education at all levels to transform outcomes and grow an aligned workforce pipeline

Regional leaders should continue to focus on long-term solutions to these issues critical to our economic success, in order to maintain positive momentum and build a globally competitive economy. We believe these key priorities should inform state and local policy decisions.

Matt Sloan President, The Daniel Island Co. Chairman, 2013 Regional Economic Scorecard Task Force

David T. Ginn President & CEO Charleston Regional Development Alliance

Bryan Derreberry President & CEO Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce

Develop and build the systems necessary to promote and support innovation

Implement aggressive and sustained talent attraction and retention strategies


Report Overview How to read the data This report utilizes federal government data, and is compiled and analyzed by the Lowcountry Graduate Center, the Riley Center for Livable Communities at the College of Charleston, and the Charleston Metro Chamber’s Center for Business Research.

Model for Economic Prosperity Economic Development Outcome • • •

Economic Output Employment Earnings & Income

WhatCharleston is an Index? This Scorecard examines numerous indicators of regional economic competitiveness. Each indicator is shown relative to the U.S. average. For example, a value of 110 means the metro is performing 10% above the national average.

Environment for Development The report follows the Model for Economic Prosperity Pyramid, which illustrates the building blocks of economic success. The 2013 Regional Economic Scorecard will assess the economic development outcomes and the competitiveness inputs at the top and bottom of the pyramid model. Because of the time lag in data availability, this 2013 report highlights data captured from 2005 to 2012.

• • •

Industrial Composition Physical Infrastructure Social, Cultural & Institutional Environment

Indicator U.S. Value

Competitiveness Inputs • • • •

Human Capital Innovative Activity Entrepreneurial Environment Quality of Place


Note: The most recent values are compared to a 2005 baseline and do not imply year-to-year changes.

Our comparative locations A taskforce of business and community leaders selected six similar metro areas and two leading metros for this benchmarking project in 2010. They were chosen based on a diverse mix of economic assets comparable to Charleston’s and detailed below.



Greenville, SC

Jacksonville, FL

Knoxville, TN

Lexington, KY

Richmond, VA

Savannah, GA

manufacturing base, tech transfer and higher education

port, business diversity, military presence and talent attraction

federal research lab, entrepreneurial environment and higher education

entrepreneurial environment, R&D and strength in medical technology

growing base of R&D, higher education, logistics and biotech cluster

port, military, creative economy and tourism industry

Austin, TX

Raleigh, NC

healthy balance of renowned for strong technology, business job growth, R&D, services, education & higher education, government, and is a and as best place talent magnet to live


Economic development outcomes The indicators Gross Regional Product (GRP) Defined as the market value of all final goods and services produced within the region, or more simply as “economic output.” A rising GRP means more money is flowing through the local economy. From 2005 to 2011, Charleston’s GRP grew 26.2%, significantly outperforming all peer metros, the state and the U.S. While Charleston is gaining ground, Austin and Raleigh continue to set the standard for GRP growth among all comparative metros.

Export Activity Measures the dollar value of all purchases of U.S. goods and services by residents of foreign countries, including payments for patents and trademarks, contracts with U.S. consultants, and spending by foreign tourists and students. Between 2010 and 2012, the dollar value of Charleston region’s exports grew by 32.7% to $3.9 billion annually. Charleston’s exports share of GRP also increased to 14.5%, above the U.S. average, ranking 26 out of the Top 100 metros.

Gross Regional Product Growth, 2005 - 2011 19.4% U.S. Average









Earnings per Worker Divides all wage and salary earnings by the number of people actively employed. From 2005 to 2011, regional earnings per worker grew 21.5% to $47,228, a significantly higher growth rate than the U.S. (0.1%). More importantly, the region’s average earnings per worker surpassed the U.S. average ($45,790) for the first time based on recently adjusted Federal data. While this trend is positive, average wages excluding self-employed/freelancers are still 15% below the U.S. average.

Per Capita Income (PCI) Measures overall wealth within a community on a per capita basis. PCI is determined by dividing the population’s total income from all sources by the number of people who reside in the community, including infants and children. Between 2005 to 2011, Charleston’s PCI grew 17.9%, but at $37,685, it’s still below the national average, four of the six peer metros and the two leading metros. However, Charleston’s PCI growth rate was faster than the U.S. (17.2%), indicating a slight decrease in the income gap between the region and the nation.










Regional Employment Measures the number of people actively employed in an area. Employment growth generally correlates to job growth. From 2005 to 2012, which includes the Great Recession, employment in the Charleston region grew 11.5%. This growth rate is double and triple that of peer metros, the state, and the U.S., which only grew .5%. Austin and Raleigh, however, experienced stronger employment growth of 18.9% and 14.7% respectively.











Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Earnings Per Worker Growth, 2005 - 2011 0.1% U.S. Average















13.3% 12.7%

Lexington Austin





Charleston has added significant numbers of new jobs in more skilled, technical occupations, resulting in increased earnings.



Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis


A Closer Look

Regional Employment Growth, 2005 - 2012 0.5% U.S. Average

Housing Affordability in the Charleston region







Sustainable, prosperous communities include an affordable mix of housing options. There is tremendous need for new solutions throughout the region, as vital members of our community— teachers, firefighters, policemen, paramedics, service industry workers, as well as young professionals — are having to drive long distances or leave the region to find homes they can afford.

5.2% 4.8% 4.7% 4.5% 4.1% 3.7%

Jacksonville Knoxville Savannah Richmond Lexington Greenville






Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Lowcountry Housing Trust

Why Housing Matters

Average Wage Growth 2000-2011



A worker must earn to afford the average priced home in the Charleston Region ($281,459 as of June 30, 2013)



2011: Charleston wages 85% of U.S. average

$32.37/hour for the

2000: Charleston wages 78% of U.S. average




Charleston’s average wage per hour is



$30,000 $28,000

$0 2000












Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics






2003: Charleston surpasses S.C. average




Wage per hour




A worker must earn median priced home of $202,000







Service Industry

Administrative Assistant


Sources: Lowcountry Housing Trust; Center for Business Research

Competitiveness inputs


The Indicators


Knowledge Workers, 2012

Why is this important? The ability to produce, attract and retain talent is critical to the

The better educated our workforce, the more quickly our economy

region’s long-term success and global competitiveness. Educated

can take advantage of new opportunities and recover from negative

residents with specialized skills and knowledge fuel the performance

shocks, such as the recent economic recession. Positive changes in the

of existing firms and serve to attract new employers in our target

Human Capital Index directly correlate with positive changes in the


Innovation Index.

Percentage of population (ages 25-64) employed in occupations requiring specialized knowledge and creativity, such as management, finance, IT, science & engineering, healthcare, design, the arts, etc. 1 2 3 4 5

Austin.............118.4 Raleigh............114.8 Richmond....... 107.6 Charleston...... 102.5 Lexington........98.9

5 7 8 9

Knoxville..........98.8 Jacksonville.... 94.3 Greenville........90.6 Savannah........84.0

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

High School Graduates, 2011

1 0 2 CHARL

The Trend


however, Charleston has shown slight growth • Since 2005, we’ve lost ground on the percentage of adults with high school

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diplomas and college degrees




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• Almost all metros decreased on this index;



Note: Because the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey is an annual survey based on random population sampling, the margin of error in the data is greater. Therefore, fluctuations from year-to-year can be the result of sampling and not necessarily a data trend.

Percentage of adult population (25+) with a high school diploma. 1 Raleigh...........103.3 6 Charleston....... 101.7 2 Jacksonville...102.9 7 Savannah........101.4 3 Austin.............102.3 8 Richmond.......100.7 3 Knoxville.........102.2 9 Greenville.........99.1 5 Lexington........101.9 Source: U.S. Census Bureau

College Graduates, 2011 Percentage of adult population (25+) with a bachelor’s degree or higher. 1 2 3 4 5

Raleigh........... 144.9 Austin............. 142.5 Lexington........ 122.1 Richmond........ 112.3 Charleston...... 104.6

6 7 8 8

Knoxville....... 100.0 Savannah........99.6 Greenville........ 94.4 Jacksonville.... 94.4 Source: U.S. Census Bureau



Employment Rate, 2011 Percentage of an area’s workforce that is actively employed. 1 2 3 3 5

Austin............102.5 Richmond........101.8 Lexington........101.6 Knoxville..........101.6 Charleston...... 100.7

5 7 8 8

Greenville.......100.6 Raleigh...........100.3 Jacksonville....99.8 Savannah........ 99.7

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics



United States Average


Change in Index Value: = Increase

= Decrease

= No change

The most recent values are compared to a 2005 baseline and do not imply year-to-year changes.

U.S. Average = 100


A Closer Look The Hidden STEM Economy

Charleston STEM Jobs by Degree Required, 2011

To see significant movement in human capital and innovative activity, the Charleston region must significantly expand the percentage of the population with needed workforce skills, particularly knowledge and STEM* workers. The region’s STEM jobs totaled 57,920, ranking 70th out of the Top 100 U.S. metros in 2011. *STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Associate degree or less

Bachelor’s or more



Source: Brookings Institution

2011 Average Wages – Charleston Region U.S. Stem: $70,212










All jobs


Jobs requiring an associate degree or less



Jobs requiring a bachelor’s or more Source: Brookings Institution

Business Perspective “Since we are serious about attracting investment and sustaining our economic growth, we must invest in our people. Jobs go unfilled today for want of qualified applicants. To grow the economy, we must grow the highly skilled workforce employers require. Education is the key to economic growth, and education will determine our future.”

Mary Thornley, Ed.D. President, Trident Technical College

Building blocks for success


Invest in education to transform economic outcomes and expand capacity Improve public education outcomes and broaden K-12 STEM curricula Develop an aggressive regional strategy to produce, attract and retain top talent

Competitiveness inputs


The Indicators


Employment in Technical Positions, 2012 Percentage of employment in computer, science, and engineering occupations.

Why is this important? The ability to generate new ideas, products and processes is

The more our region graduates, attracts and retains talent

an important measure of a region’s competitive advantage.

with needed workforce skills, particularly knowledge and

An environment of innovation encourages the launch of

STEM workers, the more we will see positive changes in our

new businesses, provides growth opportunities for existing

Innovative Activity Index.

1 2 3 4 5

Funding from NIH, NSF & NEA presented per local job. 1 2 3 4 5

The Trend


significantly behind our peers, the U.S., and Austin/Raleigh on most indicators

capital and patent awards

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programs, venture


STEM higher education

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• Challenge areas include

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Knoxville...........10.1 Jacksonville...... 6.9 Greenville........... 1.8 Savannah........... 1.3

Financial capital provided to early stage startups, presented per local job. 1 2 3 4 5

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growth of high tech industry

6 7 8 9

Venture Capital investment, 2011

106 115


Austin and most peers, demonstrating

Raleigh........... 623.7 Lexington.........147.6 Charleston....... 114.6 Austin..............68.5 Richmond........50.5

Source: NIH, NSF & NEA


• IT-sector share of jobs now higher than

Lexington.........98.1 Knoxville.......... 85.2 Jacksonville.... 83.3 Savannah........63.0

NIH/NSF/NEA Funding, 2011

the area. The result: new, higher-wage jobs for area residents.

• Mixed improvement since 2005;

6 7 8 9

Austin............ 172.2 Raleigh...........163.0 Richmond....... 103.7 Charleston....... 101.9 Greenville...... 100.0

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

businesses and attracts leading-edge businesses from outside



Austin.............947.1 Raleigh..........633.6 Greenville.......192.9 Jacksonville.....74.7 Richmond........64.0

6 7 8 9

Charleston........53.8 Knoxville...........21.9 Lexington.......... 2.8 Savannah..........0.0 Source: Thomson Reuters

Patents Issued, 2010 Number of patents issued in an area, presented per 10,000 workers. 1 2 3 4 5


Austin.............147.6 Raleigh...........130.3 Lexington........50.0 Greenville........ 33.8 Knoxville.......... 32.9

6 7 8 9

Richmond........ 23.0 Jacksonville..... 15.5 Charleston..........10.1 Savannah.......... 5.3

Source: U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

Change in Index Value:

0 e off thrt cha

377 Raleigh




United States Average


= Increase

= Decrease

= No change

The most recent values are compared to a 2005 baseline and do not imply year-to-year changes.

U.S. Average = 100


A Closer Look Science-Related Graduate Students, 2010 Graduate students in health science, science, and engineering per 10,000 residents. 1 2 3 4 5

Raleigh........... 413.2 Austin............366.8 Knoxville........206.3 Lexington........191.7 Greenville.......180.0

6 7 8 8

Richmond.......145.9 Charleston........ 37.6 Jacksonville......0.0 Savannah..........0.0

Source: NSF-NIH Survey of Graduate Students & Post-doctorates in S&E

IT-Sector Share of Jobs, 2011 Percentage of employment in IT-related businesses. 1 2 3 4 5

Raleigh......... 300.0 Lexington......200.0 Charleston...... 188.2 Austin............. 164.7 Greenville.......129.4

6 7 8 9

Richmond...... 100.0 Jacksonville.... 85.3 Knoxville......... 64.7 Savannah........ 29.4

Source: County Business Patterns

Note: To better assess regional performance, we’ve expanded the NIH Funding indicator to also include funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Boeing Fuels Technical Workforce Growth Boeing is diversifying its operations beyond the 787 and boosting the Lowcountry’s knowledge economy by investing an additional $1.1 billion and hiring 2,000 high-skilled workers in the Charleston region over the next eight years. These jobs will be a combination of information technology positions, engineers and production workers. By establishing an IT Center of Excellence, an Engineering Design Center and a Propulsion design and assembly facility in the Charleston region, Boeing is dramatically enhancing our region’s ability to attract and retain top technical talent. The growth of this tech workforce could also boost 2- and 4-year college enrollments as workers seek continuing education opportunities. Source: Charleston Regional Business Journal

Business Perspective “With the addition of a new IT Center of Excellence, Engineering Design Center, and Propulsion South Carolina operations, Boeing continues to build strategically on the solid foundation, skills and discipline present in the Charleston region. To stay at the forefront, we’ll need a sustained regional focus on developing a ready workforce. That means a continued keen focus on K-12 science, technology, engineering and math programs for our South Carolina students. It also means that we continue to develop innovative industry partnerships with higher education institutions in order to attract and retain the best talent possible.”

Jack Jones Vice President and General Manager, Boeing South Carolina

building blocks for Success


Build systems to support and promote innovation Develop pipeline of educated, skilled knowledge & STEM workers Align higher education programs with business needs and expand engineering and software/IT curricula


Competitiveness inputs


The Indicators Concentration of Small to Mid-Size Businesses, 2011

Why is this important?

Number of area businesses per 1,000 employees.

A supportive environment for entrepreneurs is key for new

The continued growth of small businesses, in particular the

business creation and growth. Just as a favorable climate

Business Services sector, is dependent on the continued

encourages new companies to put down roots, an unfavorable

growth of the region’s GRP and economic engines of growth,

climate can cause successful startups to seek more hospitable

particularly high-value target industry clusters: Aerospace,

communities. Innovative activity in the economy results in new

Advanced Security, IT, Biomedical and Energy Systems and

business and entrepreneurial activity.

related competencies.

1 2 3 4 5

Charleston.......107.4 Jacksonville... 107.0 Raleigh...........106.5 Austin..............99.0 Savannah........ 98.7

6 7 8 9

Richmond........98.2 Greenville........ 92.2 Lexington.........91.6 Knoxville.........82.9 Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Total establishments, 2011 Total number of establishment per 1,000 employees.

The Trend


• Primarily due to overall growth of business establishments




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Highest growth among all peers and leading metros.

Charleston.......107.3 Jacksonville.... 107.1 Raleigh...........106.5 Austin..............98.9 Savannah........98.6

6 7 8 9

Richmond........98.3 Greenville........ 92.4 Lexington......... 91.7 Knoxville.........82.9

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Proprietors’ Income Share, 2011 Percentage of an area’s income generated by self-employed business owners.


1 2 3 4 5


Knoxville.........120.4 Austin..............110.3 Charleston........98.3 Lexington........94.6 Greenville......... 71.8

6 7 7 9

Richmond......... 71.6 Jacksonville..... 70.1 Raleigh............. 70.1 Savannah......... 57.7

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Business Services, 2011 Share of regional employment in the professional and technical services industries (NAICS 54).

Aus tin

• Increase in proprietors’ income illustrates businesses continue to recover from Great Recession


• 10 point improvement between 2005 and 2011, passing Raleigh and edging up on Austin

93 2 9 91 90

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

Savan nah

Austin............138.6 Raleigh.............127.1 Knoxville.........108.6 Charleston........107.1 Richmond.......104.3

6 7 8 9

Greenville.......102.9 Lexington........ 84.3 Jacksonville....82.9 Savannah........ 64.3 Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Change in Index Value:




United States Average


= Increase

= Decrease

= No change

The most recent values are compared to a 2005 baseline and do not imply year-to-year changes.

U.S. Average = 100


Average Wage Comparison, 2011


S.C. average annual wage


The Charleston Digital Corridor (CDC) opened its first tech business incubator, the Flagship, in June 2009. Flagship 2 or FS2, came two years later with double the office space for more advanced startups as well as conference areas, a computer lab and other amenities. The City of Charleston leases the properties and subleases the offices, on a flexible basis, to the startup tenants.


Charleston average annual wage

A Closer Look The Future of Charleston’s Knowledge Economy

CDC member companies average wage

Planning is now underway for a third incubator, FS3, at 999 Morrison Drive. City leaders envision this area as an up and coming tech and creative corridor. “It’s about accelerating the formation and growth of these start-up companies that are contributing to our region’s economy,” said Ernest Andrade, founder and executive director of the Charleston Digital Corridor. Since 2009, 67 companies have graduated from the incubators, raising approximately $67 million in startup capital. In 2012, three CDC-based companies ranked in the Inc. 500, for the nation’s fastest growing private companies with revenues over $2 million. Nearly half of CDC-member companies added additional office space in 2012 and 20% of those plan additional expansions this year. Sources: CDC 2012 Annual Report; Bureau of Labor Statistics

Business Perspective “Charleston is in the springtime of what will someday prove to be a golden age of entrepreneurial activity. You can feel the energy and local success stories are starting to pop up. To make the most of this exciting opportunity, we need better leadership from within the entrepreneurial community; a regional, cross-sector, entrepreneur development strategy; and better access to both mentors and capital.”

Gray Somerville Co-Founder/Vice President, Business Development Telogical Systems

building blocks For Success


Ensure the region’s and SC’s regulatory environment support business growth Grow the number of incubators, co-work spaces and funding sources to support entrepreneurial growth Align and connect the entrepreneurial resources in the region to streamline the startup process

Competitiveness inputs


The Indicators


Climate, 2011 Percentage of days with high temperatures between 50° and 80° F.

Why is this important? In an increasingly competitive global economy, attracting and retaining a talented workforce has become a critical economic development issue. With a strong demand for specialized knowledge and skills, highly educated workers have more flexibility in where they choose to live and work.

The recent Charleston Handprint benchmarking study, conducted by Next Generation Consulting, gauges the region’s quality of place for attracting and retaining educated young professionals. The Charleston MSA ranked last for Cost of Lifestyle – more expensive overall in terms of home ownership, rent, food/groceries, and utilities than five peer southeastern metro areas. To download the study, visit

The Trend

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Raleigh.............117.6 Lexington.........111.2 Richmond.........111.0 Knoxville.........108.3 Greenville.......106.7

6 7 8 9

Charleston...... 102.4 Savannah........ 93.7 Jacksonville......77.1 Austin.............. 75.5

Source: Weather Underground

Culture and Recreation, 2011 Employment in the arts, entertainment and recreation (NAICS 71) provides a measure of an area’s cultural and recreational opportunities. Austin............138.9 Raleigh........... 133.3 Lexington........127.8 Jacksonville... 122.2 Charleston........116.7

5 7 8 8

Richmond........ 116.7 Savannah.......105.6 Greenville........ 94.4 Knoxville......... 94.4

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Travel Congestion, 2012 Percentage of daily travel in congested conditions. Higher number means less congestion. 1 Savannah.......139.3 6 Charleston........83.2 2 Knoxville.........129.9 6 Lexington........ 83.2 3 Richmond....... 125.2 8 Jacksonville....69.2 4 Greenville.......120.6 9 Austin.............59.8 5 Raleigh.............87.9

110 111

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• Challenge areas include travel congestion and housing affordability

99 101



• Primarily due to a decrease in still relatively high crime rate, and continued growth in health care access

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 2 4 5


• 8 point improvement from 2005 to 2011, yet still behind five metros with Savannah moving ahead



Source: Texas Transportation Institute

Crime Rate, 2011 Violent crimes per 100,000 population. Higher number means less crime.


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1 2 3 4 5

Richmond......139.2 Austin.............137.0 Raleigh........... 125.7 Savannah.........111.6 Lexington........101.6

6 7 8 8

Charleston..........91.1 Knoxville..........80.9 Jacksonville.... 64.5 Greenville........60.3

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Change in Index Value:



United States Average


= Increase

= Decrease

= No change

The most recent values are compared to a 2005 baseline and do not imply year-to-year changes.

U.S. Average = 100


A Closer Look Air Quality, 2012

What Congestion Costs - Charleston Region 2011

Percentage of days with air quality measured as “good” or “moderate” by the EPA. Higher number means better quality. 1 1 3 4 5

Charleston...... 106.6 Greenville.......106.6 Austin.............105.8 Raleigh...........105.5 Savannah.......104.9

6 7 5 9

Transportation infrastructure is a significant challenge to the region’s future economic health. Drivers in Charleston already spend more time daily in travel congestion than the national average. Between 2005 and 2011, the total cost of congestion for commuters increased by 24%.

Knoxville........103.8 Richmond.........101.1 Lexington..........87.1 Jacksonville.... 78.6

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Healthcare Access, 2012 Number of healthcare practitioner and technical occupations per 100,000 population provides a measure of access to healthcare professionals. 1 2 3 4 5

Lexington........148.1 Knoxville......... 145.5 Charleston.......137.0 Richmond.........117.5 Savannah....... 104.7

6 5 8 9

Jacksonville...104.0 Greenville.......102.9 Raleigh..............91.1 Austin.............. 88.7

30 Hours

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Yearly Delay per Commuter

Traffic congestion on Interstate 26. (Photo/Charleston Regional Business Journal)

BoomTown’s sustained 1000%+ rapid growth. We love this area for its beaches, culture, vibrant culinary and after-hours scenes, and most especially, its growth opportunities. Upcoming regional investments in talent attraction and retention efforts will support a favorable business environment. However, to remain truly competitive, Charleston needs to prioritize reducing traffic congestion and leveling out the high cost of living.”

Rebecca Guthrie Director of Operations BoomTown :: Real Estate Web Platform


Annual Excess Fuel per Commuter

Annual Excess Cost per Commuter Source: Texas Transportation Institute

Business Perspective “Charleston’s commitment to the technology sector has supported

14 Gallons

Building blocks For Success


Invest in a world-class infrastructure system to address existing problems and manage future growth Support long-term regional actions that include port-related improvements and a comprehensive transportation system with upgraded roads and bridges, public transit and bike paths Encourage a diverse mix of affordable housing options across the region, so residents don’t have to “drive to qualify”


Connecting the Dots Housing Affordability … Transportation Infrastructure … Population Growth Housing Affordability

Population Growth

The region’s high cost of living and below average wage levels make us one of the least affordable metros in the Southeast.

The region’s current and projected population growth, estimated to reach 1 million by 2027, will escalate already strong demands on our regional transportation infrastructure and housing affordability mix.

While average wages in the Charleston region have

grown almost 20% since 2005, to more


than $40,000/year, average wages remain approximately

15% below the national average. If local workers can’t afford to live near their jobs, the results are: • Longer commute times • Increased commuting costs • Increased traffic congestion • Further concerns of sprawl


5% U.S.

The region’s population grew 3X faster than the U.S. and outpaced all six peer metros, from 2005 to 2011.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Sources: Center for Business Research; U.S. Census Bureau

Transportation Infrastructure

regional prosperity

The region’s existing transportation infrastructure is inadequate to handle current needs and future growth. While the three counties each collect transportation sales taxes to help fund needed infrastructure, the $1.3 billion in local funding does not fully address the 16 priority regional projects needed to facilitate freight movement, promote economic development, accommodate residential growth and preserve & enhance our region’s quality of place.

Opportunity Next is the Charleston region’s comprehensive, cluster-based economic development strategy. It guides regional efforts to boost wages, create new, high-skill jobs and strengthens the local economy over time.

In 2011, the region’s annual cost of congestion was estimated at

$240 million, ranking Charleston the 68th most congested metro in the nation. Sources: Charleston Metro Chamber Infrastructure Visioning Task Force; Texas Transportation Institute

Opportunity Next recommends six strategic priority actions that must take place to improve economic conditions across the region.

To download and review progress-to-date,



KEY TAKEAWAYS The Charleston region has the ingredients and the potential to become a world-class metro like Raleigh or Austin, if we focus on the essential building blocks of long-term economic success.

Critical Issues For Economic Success


Transportation Transform the region’s infrastructure into a world-class multimodal system

In 2013, $591 million was allocated to fund state infrastructure needs; however, there is more to be done. The S.C. Department of Transportation estimates more than $1.45 billion in annual needs throughout the state. The S.C. Legislature must provide more funding towards the state’s current and future infrastructure needs.


Education Invest in education at all levels to transform outcomes and grow an aligned workforce pipeline

In 2005, S.C. passed the Education and Economic Development Act, creating career pathways in all state high schools, beginning in the 9th grade. Funding must be continued for this innovative and transformative initiative. State funding for the public higher institutions has also plummeted in recent years. While states across the U.S. reduced higher education funding an average of 3.8% (FY2007-2011), S.C. reduced statewide funding by 23.8%. Appropriations to Charleston area institutions were reduced 41.3% over the five-year period.


Innovation Develop and build the systems necessary to promote and support innovation

Passage of the 2013 High Growth Small Business Access to Capital Act (Angel Investors) was a critical first step for providing incentives to attract high tech investment and entrepreneurs in S.C. The region needs more higher education degree programs in computer technology and engineering, so our region’s employers can find local talent with the necessary skills now and in the future.


Talent Implement aggressive and sustained talent attraction and retention strategies

In January 2013, the Charleston Handprint study was released, ranking our region’s ability to attract and retain young professional talent. Challenge areas were identified related to housing affordability and traffic congestion. A strategy to collaboratively address our immediate gaps and long-term issues must be tackled in order for the region to attract and retain the talent needed to sustain future economic growth.

2013 Scorecard Task Force

Research & Analysis


Lowcountry Graduate Center Riley Center for Livable Communities at the College of Charleston

Matt Sloan, The Daniel Island Company


Bonnie Bella..................Trident United Way Rita Berry......................Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce Sally Ehrenfried............Blackbaud Courtney Herring.........Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce Ashley Holbrook...........The Boeing Company Meg Howle....................Trident Technical College Foundation Michelle Mapp..............Lowcountry Housing Trust Barbara Melvin.............SC Ports Authority Steve Osborne...............College of Charleston Bobby Pearce.................Smith Moore Leatherwood Amy Riley......................Thomas & Hutton Derek Willis..................SCRA/SC Launch Heather Woolwine........Medical University of South Carolina

Produced for the Community by: Charleston Regional Development Alliance in partnership with the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce To learn more about the CRDA, visit: To learn more about the CMCC, visit:

Dr. Godfrey A. Gibbison, Dean and Program Leader College of Charleston North Campus Dr. Kendra Stewart, Associate Professor and Director Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Center for Livable Communities Jake Stoudenmire, Director of Research Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Center for Livable Communities

Center for Business Research, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce

The Center for Business Research serves as the center for the compilation, interpretation and distribution of business and economic data for the three-county Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville metropolitan statistical area (MSA). Mary Graham, Senior Vice President, Business Advocacy Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce Jacquelyn Renegar, Economic, Demographic & Market Research Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce

Designed & Published by:

SC Biz News, publisher of the Charleston Regional Business Journal

View online at: For additional Charleston regional data and trends, visit:

2013 CRDA Economic Scorecard  

This Regional Economic Scorecard, published annually, gauges our three-county region’s economic progress compared to six similar metro areas...

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