Secretary of Commerce: S.C. has 500 active economic development projects

South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Harry Lightsey said the state has as many as 500 active economic development projects.

And while the likelihood of them all going in SC’s favor is remote, Lightsey said the state also has about 93 companies committed to expanding or locating in the state.

Upstate the “engine” from SC

Speaking at the Lexington Chamber & Visitors Center’s “Business Over Lunch” event last week, Lightsey declined to offer the full list of economic development projects, but made a point of mentioning the hinterland in particular, calling it the “business engine.” from South Carolina.

“Upstate is a very attractive part of South Carolina,” Lightsey said.

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With the size of the Upstate’s auto industry, Lightsey said the region will play an important leadership role as the industry transitions to electric vehicles, a transition he called “the biggest change since the days of Henry Ford.”

It also remains unclear which companies will come to the Upstate. Still, he noted that rural counties have invested heavily in facilities and infrastructure to enable businesses to move into the state and get started as soon as possible. The investments mainly related to industrial parks, special buildings or infrastructure improvements such as electricity and internet access.

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“A lot of these investments are starting to pay off,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean that the state has no competition.

Regional states like North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee are competing with Palmetto State, according to Lightsey, who emphasized the importance of continuing the state’s partnership with industry and creating a business-friendly climate.

Works well at local, state level

“We work incredibly well at the local and state levels,” Lightsey said. “CEOs are impressed by the people of South Carolina.”

He also praised the technical college system, saying that programs like readySC — a program that provides companies with customized recruiting and training solutions that bring new jobs to the state — and the majors on offer have helped attract high-demand jobs working for companies are attractive.

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“Our college system is world famous,” he said.

As for economic headwinds, Lightsey says there are no signs the state is slowing down — for now.

“We have to see what the future brings,” he said.

Economic indicators for SC

  • Workforce: 2,399,637
  • Unemployment Rate Greenville/State: 3.1%/3.2%
  • Available online vacancies: 106,900
  • Regional population: 920,477
  • Average Hourly Earning, Greenville/State: $28.89/$28.24
  • Production growth in Greenville from July 2021 to July 2022: 5%