2019 Top Industries in South Carolina

South Carolina is home to some of the most successful and innovative companies in the aerospace, agribusiness, automotive, manufacturing and technology industries.

Aerospace Industry

With an annual economic impact of more than $19 billion, the aerospace sector has evolved into a major pillar of the state’s economy.

Since 2009, when Boeing selected North Charleston for its final assembly and delivery facility, the state’s aerospace industry has soared. The driving force behind the success of this sector is the state’s loyal, highly-skilled workforce. From premium automobiles to wide-bodied commercial aircraft, the people of South Carolina have proven that they excel in manufacturing advanced, extremely complex products.

Agribusiness Industry

Agribusiness is the true homegrown industry of South Carolina. With a 23% growth rate over the last decade, it’s also one of the Palmetto State’s fastest-growing industries. Contributing an annual economic impact of more than $41 billion and accounting for approximately 68,000 direct jobs statewide, agriculture products and food production are as important to our future as they have been to our past.

The state’s growing network of agribusiness-related companies and suppliers distributed across every county in the state, includes family-owned and operated farms, large scale private farms, livestock producers, major food processors and manufacturers, wood products producers and more.

Automotive Industry

With an annual economic impact of more than $27 billion, the automotive sector is now an integral part of the state’s economy. As a result, a wide range of companies that support all aspects of automotive manufacturing—assemblers, parts suppliers and raw material producers—are based in South Carolina.

It all started in 1994, when the first South Carolina-made BMW rolled off of the assembly line at the company’s Upstate manufacturing facility. More than two decades later, South Carolina has become a leader in automotive manufacturing. The Palmetto State currently leads the US in the export of completed passenger vehicles. Moreover, the state also ranks first in both the production and export of tires, accounting for nearly one-third of the US market share.

Advanced Manufacturing Industry

From premium automobiles and appliances to boats and aircraft, each time a finished product rolls off an assembly line in this state, it helps solidify South Carolina’s reputation as a location that truly is just right for advanced manufacturing. We are proud to have a history in manufacturing. Once focused on textile mill and apparel jobs, the Palmetto State now boasts a diversified industry of manufacturers. We have become a true leader in advanced manufacturing and one of the world’s top producers of complex products.

South Carolina’s manufacturing industry is growing at a record pace that shows no signs of slowing, from manufacturing headquarters to expanding advanced manufacturing operations. In fact, since 2011, the number of manufacturing jobs has increased by approximately 18%. South Carolina now leads the nation in the export sales of tires and passenger vehicles.

Distribution & Logistics Industry

Being just right means having the infrastructure network in place to make business happen. South Carolina has one of the nation’s fastest-growing container ports, an innovative inland port, 2,300 miles of rail lines and more than 41,000 miles of state-maintained highways. Because of these assets, the Palmetto State has become internationally-known, not only for making things and making them well, but also for our skill in getting those things where they need to go.

From 2011-2018, transportation, distribution and logistics (TDL)-related firms announced capital investments of more than $1 billion in South Carolina. With the recent opening of the Panama Canal expansion, it appears this dynamic industry will only keep growing within our borders. To accommodate this growth, South Carolina has been taking steps to ensure that our TDL capabilities exceed expectations. Evidence of our commitment is the project to deepen the Charleston Harbor to 52 feet, making it the deepest shipping channel in the Southeast.

Life Sciences Industry

Recent investments and expansions by leading biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies have brought recognition to South Carolina as a top destination for the life sciences industry. With a talented and innovative workforce, top research institutions and world-class hospital systems, the Palmetto State boasts an expanding biotech infrastructure.

With such exceptional assets, a dynamic group of bulk manufacturers, chemical processors, generic and proprietary pharmaceutical developers, hygiene product producers and packagers and related research and development companies have all decided to make their home in South Carolina. As a result, the Palmetto State has cultivated a truly cutting-edge life sciences industry sector.

Office & Shared Services Industry

Not only is South Carolina a manufacturing stronghold, it’s also home to an increasing number of office operations. From call centers to financial corporate headquarters, the Palmetto State’s office and shared services industry proves that South Carolina is home to a diversified and dynamic economy. From its highly-skilled workforce to its robust technology and transportation infrastructure networks, we have proven to be an ideal destination for this thriving sector.