The southeastern region of the United States has become a hub of activity for global capital investment. Small to medium-sized companies as well as large "global players" continue to select the Southeast for their North American operations, whether sales and service, distribution, manufacturing, headquarters, or R&D-related facilities.
A Leading Location for FDI
Among the southeastern states, South Carolina has emerged as a leading location for foreign investment. BMW, Daimler, Fujifilm, Bosch, Michelin, and Roche are just a few global companies that have chosen South Carolina for a major North American location. South Carolina and the Southeast are growing regions with a proven track record for being profitable locations.
South Carolina is first among all 50 states in the percentage of work force employed by international companies. According to the South Carolina Department of Commerce, these foreign-owned companies employ 112,800 South Carolinians. This represents 6.9 percent of the state's private industry employment. In the manufacturing sector, foreign-affiliated firms employ 54,400 South Carolinians, accounting for 21.6 percent of the state's work force, also ranking South Carolina first among the states in this regard.
A Strategic Location
The state's global success has resulted from both planning and from its geographical proximity to U.S. and foreign markets resulting from its strategic Mid-Atlantic location.
In the 1960s and 70s, South Carolina began recruiting European machinery and chemical companies that supplied the textile industry. With the transition and diversification of the region's industrial base, the state subsequently benefited from foreign direct investment in the automotive sector, most notably BMW's two assembly plants employing 5,000; Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers and Michelin's North American headquarters in Greenville, S.C. More than 640 foreign-owned companies representing 40 countries now have a presence in the state.
Global companies rely on an integrated transportation system. From the deepwater Port of Charleston to the state's extensive network of interstate highway and Class I rail systems, infrastructure is in place to reach U.S. and global markets. Also, South Carolina is strategically located halfway between New York and Miami, putting one half of the fastest-growing market in the United States within one day's drive.
Highly Skilled Labor Force
One of the greatest assets the state offers new and expanding companies is a highly skilled work force. Through its technical college system, a free customized recruitment and training program called readySC delivers a world-class work force, a key reason Boeing selected North Charleston, S.C., as its East Coast site to assemble the 787 Dreamliner.
Of course the state and region's lower cost of manufacturing factors into its success. South Carolina consistently ranks as having one of the lowest-cost business climates and lowest percentage of unionized workers in the United States.
The South Carolina Department of Commerce has maintained a presence in Europe since 1974. That office, located in Munich, and another located in Shanghai, provide companies a source for obtaining information on the various resources and incentive programs that reduce the cost of locating and operating in the state.
In addition, the South Carolina Power Team, the state's largest electric power system, maintains an extensive database of available buildings and certified sites to enable global companies to become operational quickly at a lower cost than in other regions of the country. With over 150 years of combined economic development experience, the staff of the South Carolina Power Team is extremely qualified to respond to the needs of companies considering a U. S. location.