South Carolina's County Competitiveness Report

On March 2, 2016, then South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley established the Local Government Competitiveness Council. The Executive Order establishing the Council required that the Council consist of business leaders with expertise in the areas of workforce, infrastructure and taxes. The purpose of the Council is to analyze factors and criteria that impact South Carolina counties’ abilities to attract, retain and develop business and industry.

The first step in the process was to divide the state’s 46 counties by population, resulting in three groups:
· Group 1 – Counties with a population of 100,000 or greater (15 counties)
· Group 2 – Counties with a population of 30,000 – 99,999 (17 counties)
· Group 3 – Counties with a population of 29,999 or less (14 Counties)

With the county groupings determined, the second task of the Council was to determine what data to collect and review. Discussions among Council members and staff resulted in four areas of interest–public infrastructure, taxes and regulation, workforce, and quality of life. The Council then decided on roughly 80 data points under these categories to analyze for each county, group, and statewide.

The four member counties in the I-77 Alliance can use the report to focus resources on mitigating issues that have led to underperforming data points. However, the I-77 region fared well overall and had some standout comments. Below are a few quotes from the report and to view the full report, there is a link at the end. (Any emphasis added below is our own).

- “Of the high performing counties that the Council identified, most were located on an interstate... This was particularly true of the I-77 corridor from York County down through Fairfield County with York, Chester and Fairfield Counties ranking first, third and fourth in announced job creation as percentage of population.”

- “York County’s announced job creation of 2.7% is the highest among all of the Group 1 counties and makes it a high performing county.” 

- “(York’s) percentage change in jobs during the period from 2005 to 2014 of 13.51% makes it one of the fastest growing counties in the State for overall job growth.”

- “Chester’s economic outlook appears to be improving with the announcement of GITI Tires location in the county. Because of its proximity to York County and its location along Interstate 77, Chester is part of the “growth corridor””. 

- “Chester currently has 35 sites available that range in size from 12 acres to 4,405 acres. Nine sites have rail access, ten have interstate frontage, and three are certified sites. Chester County has more sites available than any other county in the State. “

Fairfield’s population within 40 miles of the county seat is 323,473 which the largest among all the Group 3 counties.

“Fairfield’s announced job creation as a percentage of population was 3.5% which was the highest within Group 3 and makes Fairfield a high performer within the State.”

- “Five of the Group 1 counties had larger populations of 20-34 year-olds than the other age groups. However, three of these counties (Richland, Pickens and Sumter) likely have strong youth populations because of the location of the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, and Shaw Air force Base being located in those counties.”

“Richland has the best total wastewater capacity and future capacity among all the Group 1 counties, making it a prime location for large industrial projects.”

The I-77 region offers a unique opportunity for economic development. Strong economies, plentiful real estate options, utility and transportation infrastructure, and a location near one of the largest and fastest growing metro areas in the United States. In addition to these physical assets, our location draws from two labor sheds, each with a civilian labor force of roughly 1.2 million people. The I-77 region is ideally positioned to help new and expanding companies thrive.

To access the full report, click this link.