By Andy Owens
Published Sept. 27, 2012
The CEO of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce said companies looking for access to venture capital find it challenging when considering a move or expansion to the Charleston area.
To put it simply, venture firms with cash ready to invest in small, high-growth companies don’t have a big enough reason to come to South Carolina; and that kind of access often figures into economic development plans that grow small businesses and create demand for high-skilled talent, said Brian Derreberry, president and CEO of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce.
Legislation was passed in the S.C. House last session, but it was held up in the Senate when a school voucher amendment was attached, Derreberry said.
“This is a must for our region and across the state,” he said. “We must not allow our state legislators to continue to operate in a way that puts critical fuel at risk for the growth of venture capital.”
Derreberry’s comments came during a presentation and panel discussion to launch the 2012 Regional Economic Scorecard from the Charleston Regional Development Alliance. The CRDA unveiled its third annual scorecard at the Charleston Regional Business Journal’s Power Breakfast this morning in North Charleston.
Each scorecard compares data from communities demographically similar to Charleston to give a snapshot of the area’s economy, and its standing among peers. Each scorecard uses independent research from Clemson University’s Center for Economic Development. This year’s scorecard focused on data from 2005 to 2010, which includes time before and after the Great Recession.
“The Regional Economic Scorecard is a direct result of our effort to drive regional competitiveness through unbiased research and engaged top leaders like all of you in this room utilizing that information to move the economy forward,” said CRDA President and CEO David Ginn.
Ginn said that because Charleston is a top 100 metro area — 78 out of 366 in the United States — we’re in direct competition with communities worldwide that are vying for economic development dollars and talent.
The scorecard, which can be found online now and in the Oct. 8 print edition of the Business Journal, shows the ups and downs of the economy spanning the targeted years. The overall trend in many areas shows improvement, Ginn said, but it’s an honest look at the region’s economy and not a marketing piece.
For example, from 2005 to 2010, Charleston’s gross regional product grew 8%, which is a growth rate that bests all peer metros, the state and the nation, Ginn said. “However, as you can see, Austin (Texas) and Raleigh’s gross regional product grew more than twice as fast as ours.”
Also, regional earnings per worker grew more than 20% to more than $46,700.
“This is a higher growth rate than the U.S., Austin and Raleigh, and all peer metros except Savannah,” Ginn said. “Despite this tremendous growth, Charleston’s earnings still lag behind the U.S. average of $51,700.”
Ginn said this kind of honest analysis allows the Charleston community, business leaders, educators and lawmakers to collaborate on solutions that drive economies like those in Austin and Raleigh.
“While we still have work to do, there are positive signs that our economic development efforts are working to drive more money into the local economy and drive more-competitive, higher, average wages,” Ginn said.
Read more about the Regional Economic Scorecard in the Oct. 8 edition of the Charleston Regional Business Journal.