Support a vibrant and diversified economic climate that provides an equitable range of employment opportunities, retains existing businesses and attracts new businesses.
North Charleston has a strong economy based on its successes in commercial and industrial development. As such, it has continued to be a significant employment hub in the region which continues to grow. In 2018, an estimated 5,662 businesses in the City of North Charleston employed slightly fewer than 95,000 people. Principal industry groups in the City include Manufacturing, Transportation and Warehousing, Retail Trade, and Healthcare Services. Major employers located in the City include:
- Boeing SC
- Trident Medical Center
- Trident Technical College
- Mercedes-Benz Vans LLC
- Detyen’s Shipyard
- Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC)
- Scientific Research Corporation
- Joint Base Charleston
While the City enjoys economic prosperity, it is important to recognize and continue the collaboration needed to sustain economic growth. Partnerships with both public and private sector interests will serve as the basis for economic sustainability and future growth.
The key to economic stability is the synergy of co-location by commercial enterprises. For the most part, the City’s current commercial economy is centered along principal transportation corridors. Growth of future commercial development should be guided to vacant and underdeveloped lots located along those same corridors where the infrastructure exists. These mixed-use corridors and employment areas are shown on the Future Land Use Map. Where needed, infrastructure in those corridors should be enhanced. Without question, the City should continuously evaluate ways to maintain its well-known “business-friendly” environment.
Despite its economic success and prosperity, as well as being the region’s employment hub, some of the City’s population groups continue to face greater challenges accessing employment within the City. While greatly improved since the recession, North Charleston has an unemployment rate of 8.4% – greater than any of its neighboring jurisdictions. With lower levels of educational attainment coupled with a higher proportion of households with no or limited access to vehicles, many residents are disadvantaged by a lack of education or training to gain employment, and/or face challenges in securing reliable transportation to job skills training or to work.
Equitable access to education, training, and/or jobs is needed to ensure that all residents have equal opportunity for employment. SC Works and other agencies provide connections between unemployed and underemployed members of the labor force to education and training and/or jobs so that a lack of skilled labor is not a challenge to continued economic growth. Likewise, there are opportunities for collaborations to support the retention and growth of small businesses desiring a City of North Charleston location and/or affordable commercial spaces.
Historical and cultural arts resources are another economic sector that is key to the City’s quality of life. Cultural resources should be accessible to all residents.
This is prime time for the City to integrate spaces for permanent art exhibits and historic archives that are accessible to the public, whether in formal museum spaces or galleries or at public spaces. The future bus rapid transit system has the potential to bring cultural resources to the larger North Charleston area beyond I-526 expanding greater access to the community at-large. Due to the City’s recent growth, the inventory of the City’s historic properties, most recently conducted in the mid-1990s should also be updated.