Charleston Economy Myths Debunked

Charleston Economy Myths Debunked

The Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA) recently dispelled myths that have been circulating about the local economy in the Charleston region. The local economy is filled with local talent and new business opportunities and continues to prosper and grow, according to researchers at CRDA (crda.org). CRDA listed five myths about the local economy which simply are not true.

Myth # 1 – there are not enough local workers to fill the jobs available in Charleston, whether existing or new.

The Charleston employment market is booming with a growth in the labor force which is four times faster than the United States. Charleston has 12000 new residents each year with two thirds at the prime workforce age of 18 to 44.

Myth #2 – Charleston’s low unemployment rate of 3.1 percent means we don’t have enough workers for companies to locate or grow here.

The Charleston labor force is close to 380,000 with 12,000 to 13,000 in local talent available for hire. Local high schools and colleges graduate 16,000 potential employees annually.

Myth #3 – Charleston is only recruiting talent from elsewhere and there is no effort to develop a local workforce to meet the demands of the marketplace.

Charleston’s local high schools and colleges have launched numerous programs in recent years to help develop the skills necessary to compete in the local economy. Every major local college and university are developing programs to train workers needed in IT, advanced manufacturing, life sciences and other fields in high demand by local businesses.

Myth #4 – Charleston metropolitan area primarily competes with other locales from South Carolina or Southeastern states for new business and economic expansion.

Charleston has been highly successful in competing both on the national and global stage for new business opportunities, and has been compared to other markets such as Phoenix, Austin, Orlando, Detroit, Seattle, Nashville, and numerous cities in Mexico.

Myth #5 – Charleston has become too expensive for development of new sites and buildings, and has a tight local market for office space.

Charleston continues to offer a range of opportunities to purchase properties for business parks and industrial space. Prices have ranged from $6 per square foot to $14 per square foot, and there are more than 451,000 square feet of new office space in development and 3.2 million square feet of industrial space under construction.

Myth #6 – Charleston is not investing in infrastructure to support local expansion.

Charleston recently invested nearly $200 million in the Charleston International airport terminal expansion, and $2.2 billion in capital improvements and infrastructure at the Port of Charleston.  There is $3 billion earmarked for interstate upgrades during the next 10 years in all three counties in the Charleston region.

Source: CRDA, “Myths about Charleston’s Economy,” by Jacki Renegar and Jenna Edwards, September 2017

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