Investment in the Lowcountry and throughout South Carolina has been booming recently. A financial technology company SmartAsset study shows that several counties in the state had more than a billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2018. Charleston, Greenville, Richland, and Horry counties each broke the $1 billion mark, with Charleston County reaching $1.7 billion in investments, the most in the state.
GDP represents the measure of productivity and economic activity in a region. These four counties made up $5.7 billion in GDP for South Carolina. Berkeley County ranked second highest in the state for incoming investment. Volvo’s $1 billion investment in the county has plans to hire 4,000 workers and produce two vehicles at its new automotive plant, which is a big reason for this ranking.
All three Lowcountry counties – Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester – ranked in the top 10 statewide. Berkeley County has ranked in the top four since 2015 when Volvo announced plans to establish a manufacturing plant there. Charleston County has also ranked in the top ten in the SmartAsset rankings for all four years, and Dorchester County ranked in the top 10 for these last four years except for 2016, when it fell to number 11.
The study evaluated counties in South Carolina with the highest investment from business, real estate, government, and the local economy. The study looked at business growth, GDP growth (in the millions), new building permits, and federal funding to calculate each county’s overall incoming investments index.
Berkeley County ranked 73rd nationally and number two statewide, with an incoming investment index of 56.42. Charleston County ranked 83rd nationally and number four statewide, with an incoming investment index of 55.39. Dorchester County, at number eight statewide, ranked 200 nationally with an investment index of 46.19.
The SmartAsset study examined the change in the number of businesses established in each location over three years to show whether or not people are starting new businesses in each county. The study looked at real growth (inflation-adjusted) in the local economy. It measured real estate growth in the local market by calculating the number of new building permits per 1,000 homes. The final factor examined was federal funding received by each county in the form of contracts awarded to businesses which were then divided by the population. These four factors were used to score each county and then to create the counties’ final ranking.
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