By Liz Segrist
Published Oct. 9, 2013
Charleston County has survived and grown following the recession, but industry and jobs have yet to rebound to prerecession levels, according to local industry leaders.
“We came through a brutal recession. ... There are still people without jobs. The business of us helping you, the business community, create jobs never ends,” said Steve Dykes, Charleston County’s economic development director, during the county’s Industry Appreciation Luncheon Tuesday.
|Gov. Nikki Haley said she is frustrated with the government shutdown and its impact on South Carolina. (Photo/Liz Segrist)|
“I am extremely frustrated with this shutdown. You can never allow your country to shut down. ... Thankfully, we are solvent, and we brace ourselves for times like this, but no state braces themselves for this long. It’s unfortunate. There are no winners when we have a shutdown.”
Haley continued to express confidence in the state’s ability to recruit and maintain manufacturers, noting that increasing skilled labor and the inventory of modern, industrial buildings are top of mind for the state’s economic development team.
Nearly 200 attendees from roughly 40 companies in the technology, automotive, manufacturing and aerospace sectors, among others, attended the luncheon. Several company CEOs spoke via video about their growth in the market, as well as their challenges.
Boeing’s plant in North Charleston; the wind turbine facility set to open in November, also in North Charleston; and growth in the technology, tourism and manufacturing sectors have helped pulled the economy through the recession, Dykes said.
The Charleston economy has seen an increase in home sales, port volume, manufacturing output and retail activity, but figures are still at prerecession levels, Dykes said.
Charleston’s diversified economy helps the region weather downturns of certain sectors, said Frank Hefner, an economist with the College of Charleston.
Both population and hiring are on the rise in the area, but it’s not at the same pace as before, said Hefner, who wants to see additional jobs come to the area.
Boeing has already played a significant role in bringing jobs to the region, and it plans to continue creating technology-based jobs in the area, said Jack Jones, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina.
The technology sector also has played a role in bringing high-paying jobs to the area. PeopleMatter CEO Nate DaPore expects to see local technology companies continue to expand regionally and internationally, including his own, which he plans to take international late next year.
He also anticipates more companies moving into the area and others going public.
Charleston has the opportunity to stand out as a technology hub in the United States, DaPore said. The growth of this knowledge-based economy will depend on an educated workforce, office space and startup capital for tech firms.
The Charleston Digital Corridor, run by executive director Ernest Andrade, aims to address all of those issues with its CodeCamp classes, Flagship co-working office spaces and a seed fund, which it aims to launch soon for tech startups, Andrade said.
Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.