Strong businesses, skilled workers and dedicated training give Charleston a bright 2020 economic outlook

We Stand For Progress Reports Feb. 24, 2020, 12:45pm

A tight labor market, the trade war with China and businesses' reluctance to make decisions in an election year all have had a role in putting the brakes on Charleston’s economic boom, but overall, 2020 looks to be a good year for the area’s economy.

Steve Dykes, executive director of Charleston County Economic Development, told Palmetto Business Daily that sectors such as manufacturing, distribution, tech and hospitality are all robust and will continue to grow.

“Our mission is really threefold,” Dykes said. “It's to recruit primary industry to Charleston, to retain and expand primary industry that we already have, and then it is to do beneficial things for the business climate to make this a better place to do business.

“So we concentrate year in and year out on those three things, and what we've done along with our partners in the Charleston Regional Development Alliance – we have identified targets and those are basically automotive, aerospace, life sciences, IT and port logistics. And in terms of the last couple of years, here in the economy I think it's a real dynamic picture you've got.”

Dykes points to large manufacturers such as Boeing and Mercedes, and the exponential growth of the Port of Charleston as evidence of a thriving economy. The tech sector, meanwhile, has seen a record number of startups.

“What we find particularly with the tech sector is that a lot of the millennials and a lot of the younger folks that are relatively unattached move here without even having job security,” Dykes said. “They love the lifestyle, they know the town is flush with IT jobs and they move here and then figure it out.”

It is not just about attracting skilled workers to the area, though. Dykes says that part of prosperity is making it available to all of the people already in Charleston by giving them the skills for the available jobs.

“We’ve actually attracted some nationwide attention for our efforts to do workforce training with citizens here, to start a talent pipeline that basically emanates from K through 12 and also travels on through the technical-college level and the four-year degree level. There are a lot of local initiatives, Cradle to Career is one that comes to mind, also Career Academies. There's a big push on to have education intimately tied into the business community."

With local companies thriving, more companies wanting to move to the area, and a skilled local workforce available to meet their needs, Chareston’s economy continues to look bright.

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