Investment in the Lowcountry and throughout the state of South Carolina has been booming in recent years. A study by financial technology company SmartAsset shows that several counties in the state have 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 with plans to hire 4,000 workers and produce two vehicles at its new automotive plant is a big reason for this ranking.
All three Lowcountry counties – Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester – ranked in the top 10 statewide, and Berkeley County 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 overall incoming investments index in each county.
Berkeley County ranked 73rd overall nationally and number two statewide, with an incoming investment index of 56.42. Charleston County, ranked 83rd overall nationally and number four statewide, with an incoming investment index of 55.39. Dorchester County at number eight statewide, ranked number 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 a 3-year period 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 and 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 was then divided by the population. These four factors were used to score each county and then used to create the final ranking of the counties.
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